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Continued: Columbus shopping around for new police services

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 10, 2013 - 2:05 PM

“City councils and city managers are always going to question are they getting the best value. That’s their job,” said Ramsey County spokesman Randy Gustafson. “They seem to understand what the costs are. That hasn’t really been an issue.”

In Anoka County, the sheriff’s office uses a formula that takes into account calls for service, land area and the amount of proactive police time needed to serve the population. For Bethel, that’s a little under two hours of deputy time a day. For Andover, that’s 16 full-time deputies.

And then there are economies of scale from collaborating.

“They get full use of the crime lab, all our services — every department, every specialty we have they get,” said Anoka County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Paul Sommer. “They are getting a fully staffed, fully trained law enforcement agency that will provide them with services well beyond anything they can afford themselves,”

Leaders in both the Anoka and Ramsey county sheriffs’ offices stress that cities pay the actual cost for service. There’s no upcharge.

“We don’t make money. We cover the costs of providing the services,” said Gustafson with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.

Andover City Administrator Jim Dickinson said his city is comfortable with its contract with the sheriff. Deputies respond to about 10,000 calls a year in the city.

“We feel are getting a good deal,” Dickinson said, though “there were some increases this year.”

Those were largely tied to rising costs of retirement benefits and insurance.

“We do an evaluation each year to determine the number of calls coming through and how they are spending their time being proactive and reactive,” Dickinson said.

 

Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804

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  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Bolles worked one day last week with police in Columbia Heights. That city has its own police department (budget: $3.9 million) and does not contract with the Sheriff’s Office.

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