Maynard looking to neighbor, county for extra cops
MAYNARD -- There was a time in Maynard when "everyone knew everybody in town,'' according to Mayor Richard Groothuis. It's not that way anymore, and life has changed in other ways too. Like in other rural communities, he said, residents in Maynar...
MAYNARD -- There was a time in Maynard when "everyone knew everybody in town,'' according to Mayor Richard Groothuis.
It's not that way anymore, and life has changed in other ways too. Like in other rural communities, he said, residents in Maynard have concerns about everything from the rural explosion in methamphetamine use to sexual predators who target children.
It's why the community of 388 people is exploring the possibility of contracting with either the neighboring community of Clara City or Chippewa County for additional law enforcement protection. The community wants a more visible law enforcement presence.
"It's the number one deterrent to criminal activity,'' said Clara City Police Chief Ralph Bradley. "That's what they are looking for.''
Bradley and Chippewa County Sheriff Stacy Tufto outlined proposals to Maynard City Council members Monday on how either law enforcement agency could serve the community.
Both offered essentially identical proposals in terms of costs. They recommended 32 hours of scheduled coverage a week at $40 an hour, or roughly an annual cost of $65,000.
There are some differences in the services each could provide.
Clara City handles collection efforts for bad checks and undertakes other investigatory services. Clara City (pop. 1,393) and Maynard are no more than seven miles apart. The two communities have already been discussing other ways they can cooperate to provide city services.
Both Tufto and Bradley emphasized that no matter which agency is contracted, one thing will not change. When an emergency call is made, both the Sheriff's Office and Clara City Police Department stand ready to respond with the officer who can be first at the scene.
"There's a good team effort between the two agencies,'' said Bradley.
Currently, the Chippewa County Sheriff's Office is responsible for providing law enforcement services in Maynard. A sheriff's deputy makes at least one drive through town at different times each day, and deputies are dispatched on a needs basis. Under a mutual aid agreement, both the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department and Clara City Police Department respond when emergency calls are made.
Groothuis said most residents in Maynard support the need for more law enforcement, but there were some who raised objections at the Monday meeting. Some expressed concerns that officers would target patrons leaving the local on-sale at closing time, or set up speed traps for speeders.
Bradley said both he and the sheriff pointed out that officers do not target liquor establishments. By the same measure, officers will not look the other way. If they see a vehicle blowing through stop signs or exhibiting other signs that the driver is intoxicated or violating traffic laws, the driver will be stopped.
As for speed traps, Bradley pointed out that a look at statistics in Chippewa County and Clara City shows that officers give out far more warnings than they do tickets for traffic offenses. The goal is to protect and serve the citizenry, not collect revenues for local coffers, he said.
Groothuis said council members took no action on the proposals. Their main concern is finding funds to cover the additional costs. The city will look into the possibility of acquiring Homeland Security or other grant funds. The council members also asked both the sheriff and police chief to consider reducing costs by paring the number of hours of coverage.
Both law enforcement agencies would need to add staffing to serve Maynard. Each has asked Maynard for at least a one-year commitment.
Bradley said that having more law enforcement services available in Maynard will deter crime in ways that are not always obvious. The greater police presence sends a message: Maynard is not a safe haven to set up shop and make methamphetamine or engage in other criminal activity.
Bradley noted that the Clara City-to-Maynard area of Chippewa County does not have an abundance of law officers. It is a relatively sparsely populated area, but that does not make it any less vulnerable to crime. He pointed out Minnesota Highways 23 and 7 and the mobility that exists today. "We're wide open,'' he said. "There is no such thing as Mayberry anymore.''