Police Contract Between Cold Spring and Wakefield Township Expires [AUDIO]
WAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP - After months of heated exchanges, Wakefield Township allowed their police contract with Cold Spring to expire on Sunday.
The Wakefield board gave Cold Spring notice that it would end the joint-powers agreement six months ago. Cold Spring had been providing police support for Wakefield Township for the past 16 years. Wakefield board member Cyril Erkins says the board wanted to end the police contract because it was outdated.
Erkins was the one board member who recommended that the board put the police contract on the ballot for citizens to vote on. He says a recent survey done by the Cold Spring Record found that a vast majority of people wanted to continue the partnership with Cold Spring.
Numerous residents in the township voiced concerns about having potentially less police coverage with the contract ending.
The township hoped to address concerns by presenting findings from a law enforcement fact-finding committee. Bridget Chard was part of the committee and says they showed evidence that most townships typically stay with county sheriff services.
The committee recommended that the board go forward with ending the contract and use Stearns County for police coverage.
Last month, Cold Spring Police Chief Chris Boucher presented to the board, saying that Wakefield Township accounted for 27 percent of the departments call load.
Wakefield Township was paying around $57,000 for police protection, which was 5.9 percent of the police budget.
Cold Spring City Administrator Paul Hetland says he doesn't expect the loss of funds to impact the department, since it was a relatively small amount compared to their $1 million budget.
Hetland adds that Wakefield may lose $10,000 of ticketing revenue from discontinuing the contract.
With the contract ending, law enforcement coverage in the area will depend on Stearns County. Patrol time can be requested at $45 an hour.
In an email to WJON, Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner says the contract expiring won't have a large impact on their patrol functions.
Sanner and Lt. Jon Lentz attended the meeting last week to answer questions from the public. Sanner emphasized that deputies will be highly visable and available in the area.