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Grove City, Minn., asks neighboring Atwater to consider providing contract police service

GROVE CITY -- Two neighboring cities on opposite sides of the Kandiyohi County and Meeker County lines are considering a proposal to share police services.

Grove City, which currently contracts with the Meeker County Sheriff's Office, has asked the Atwater City Council about the possibility of buying police coverage from Atwater's municipal police department.

The proposal is in the very early stages of discussion, but there is some interest from both sides.

"We're looking into it right now," said Atwater City Clerk Goldie Smith, who expressed some concerns about extending law enforcement across the county line.

Earlier this fall, Grove City Councilman Bill Peterka approached the Atwater City Council to inquire about the possibility of contracting with the Atwater Police Department.

Ever since Grove City dissolved its own city police department in 2003 as a cost-saving measure, the city has contracted with the Meeker County Sheriff's Office.

Grove City is hoping to save more money by getting that service elsewhere.

Grove City currently pays Meeker County $40 an hour for 40 hours a week of law enforcement services, according to Grove City Administrator Janell Johnson. The city has a contract with the county through 2012.

Last month Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt attended the Grove City Council meeting, where he said his office could provide police coverage for $28 an hour.

With a department that includes Schmidt and four part-time officers, the city of Atwater would not have to hire additional police officers if an agreement was reached with Grove City, according to Smith. Atwater currently has 80 to 90 hours a week of police coverage.

Johnson said the Grove City Council is looking for options but said a proposal to contract with Atwater instead of Meeker County has not been discussed in great detail by the council and no decision has been made. "It's all kind of in limbo yet," she said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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