WILLMAR — The city of Willmar has decided it will not be conducting any training of police dogs at the Lakeview Apartments, after concerns were raised by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.
In a letter to ACLU-MN, Willmar City Administrator Brian Gramentz writes that the training will not take place. The letter — shared Friday with the West Central Tribune — also states that no such trainings had been conducted at the apartment complex prior to the ACLU sending the city a letter about its concerns related to the proposed training, or during the time the training was under review after the letter was received.
The ACLU had also requested all data the city had related to the training. The city provided the ACLU, along with the West Central Tribune, email discussions between Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt and Jill Bengtson, executive director of the Kandiyohi County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
The HRA and the Willmar Police Department had partnered to have the training take place at the complex. Felt said that the department had received Facebook messages from residents concerned and frightened by alleged drug problems at Lakeview.
A notice about the training was put up around the apartment complex in late April and early May, with the notice saying training was to begin May 14. The ACLU sent its the letter to the city after it was made aware of the training by individuals who had seen the notice. The ACLU said the training could end up being traumatic for some of the residents, many of whom are minorities.