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Top 10 – #10 Foley Police Contract

Tim Lyon

FOLEY – Today (Monday) we start our countdown of the Top 10 news stories of 2011.  At #10 is Foley’s decision to dump the deputies and hire security guards to police their streets.

The debate over the city’s police contract began back in February.  City officials said they had to find ways to cut their budget due to reductions in their Local Government Aid from the state.

Benton County has been providing police protection to the city since they eliminated their police department in 2003.  Three deputies were hired to provide 17 hours of service a day at a cost of about $24,000 a month.

In October the city council voted to end that partnership and voted instead to become the first city in Minnesota to hire private security guards.  General Security Services was awarded a contract for the first six months of 2012.

But, in November the city puts the breaks on that plan when Attorney General Lori Swanson got involved.  She raised concerns about the legal ramifications of having non-law enforcement officials trying to enforce the laws.  But, after more debate, the city council again voted in favor of the plan citing a savings of $53,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the decision now leaves a hole in the Benton County Sheriff’s Department’s budget.  They need to find a way to cut that $281,000 in annual lost revenue.

Tune-in tomorrow (Tuesday) and we’ll reveal our #9 story of the year.

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