January 20, 2005 at 8:43 a.m.

Case numbers increased, schools benefitted in first year of merged police department

Case numbers increased, schools benefitted in first year of merged police department
Case numbers increased, schools benefitted in first year of merged police department

The one-year-old Lakes Area Police Department is back to a full roster, with the hiring of Officer Brian Carlson. He fills the vacancy left when Officer Ron Rollins accepted a position with the department in North Branch. Carlson comes to the Chisago City-Lindstrom department from Washington County. Officer Carlson was sworn-in at the Police Commission meeting January 12.

Lakes Area Police has been experiencing the demand for services that was projected to happen, when the combining of the Lindstrom and Chisago City departments was being investigated. Population growth and crime increase were two of the motivating factors for pursuing the Jan. 1 2004 merger in the first place.

Lakes Area Police Dept. records show that calls to the department from 2003 to the end of 2004 increased by over 16 percent, mostly due to the merger resulting in 24-hour operations.

Chisago City alone in 2002 had 1,667 incident reports generated and Lindstrom had 1,769. In 2003 Chisago City had 1,521 ICRs and Lindstrom had 1,911. The combined department in 2004 had 4002 ICRs.

In a year-end summary Deputy Chief of Police Bill Schlumbohm wrote that entering its second year of operations Lakes Area Dept. looks forward to new challenges. Schlumbohm used to be chief in Chisago City and he cooperates in the new department administration with Chief Kevin Stenson, who formerly headed up Lindstrom’s force.

There will be technology improvements and internal controls and systems to be further developed.

The department continues to focus on reinvestment. “We seek to become self-reliant by obtaining the personnel, training and equipment needed to serve our communities in the best possible way and most cost-effective manner,” Schlumbohm explained.

Looking back on all that’s transpired since the two city councils okayed the police merger, Schlumbohm mentioned that the creation of the new department was an enormous undertaking, “...management was running 150 percent getting the department up and running with far too much to do and not enough time.” He added that more study at the outset with other merged departments might have saved some time and energy. But, overall the result is worth it.

Lakes Area Police Dept. is able to let school resource officers focus on their assignments. They are not being called out during hours that should be dedicated to the schools (nine months of officer budget is shared by school-cities).

Dave Ertl, Chisago Lakes High School Principal, told the Press the police since the merger do seem to have more of a presence on campus and, “...them just being in the school is a positive force.” He said the district appreciates the dedicated manpower and the timely response when law enforcement is needed.

Lakes Area also has its first investigator position. Each report goes through two levels of review. It may or may not be flagged for investigation and a supervisor is required to approve reports prior to their being closed.

Schlumbohm also explained the instruction for improving law enforcement services is being kept in-house as much as possible. The training is superior, he noted, because it is customized for conditions officers here actually deal with. The officer giving the training develops a sense of ownership by creating the training and providing it, he added.


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