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Swift County approves patrol contract for Murdock

The Swift County Sheriff's office will dedicate patrol hours to the city of Murdock under an agreement identical to one in place with the city of Kerkhoven. The city of Murdock requested the contract for dedicated patrol hours.

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The Murdock City Council approved a conditional use permit on Dec. 9, 2020. for the whites-only Asatru Folk Assembly which has purchased the former Lutheran church in Murdock for its members. The Murdock City Council did not conduct a required roll call vote on the conditional use permit contrary to Minnesota Open Meeting Law. The whites-only group is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mark Wasson / West Central Tribune file photo
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BENSON — The city of Murdock will be contracting with the Swift County Sheriff’s Office to increase the presence of patrols by deputies in the community.

The Swift County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday approved a contract with the city of Murdock.

Swift County Sheriff John Holtz said the city expressed its interest in contracting for dedicated patrol hours. The Sheriff’s Office currently contracts with the city of Kerkhoven to provide a dedicated number of patrol hours. The contract with Murdock will charge the same rates as paid by Kerkhoven.

Sheriff Holtz said the city requested 15 hours of patrol time per month. The city of Murdock had a contract with the Sheriff’s Office for patrols many years ago, but had dropped it, he told the commissioners.

Commissioner Edward Pederson said the interest in renewing the service likely resulted from the recent arrival of the Asatru Folk Assembly in the community. The sheriff said he and Murdock Mayor Craig Kavanagh talked about that issue as well as others.

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The Asatru Folk Assembly describes itself as “an expression of the native, pre-Christian spirituality of Europe.” It is d esignated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its whites-only belief system and current and former leaders espousing racist ideology.

The Murdock City Council approved the contract for dedicated patrol hours at its Dec. 9 meeting. It’s the same meeting at which it approved a conditional use permit for the Asatru Folk Assembly, which sought the permit to use a former Lutheran church as its “hof” and place of worship. The permit was needed because zoning for the former church had been changed for residential use prior to its purchase by the Asatru Folk Assembly.

Swift County will charge $38.84 per hour or an expected total of $7,009.20 to the city of Murdock in 2021 for the patrol hours. The rate increases to $40.89 per hour in 2022 and the expected annual charge to the city will be $7,360.20.

The sheriff pointed out that the Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement services to the community at all times in addition to the contract for dedicated patrol hours.

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