The city of St. Anthony wants to amend its contract to provide police services to Falcon Heights to make that city solely financially liable for any incident within its borders.
St. Anthony incurred “emergency unbudgeted expenses” after officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile last July on a heavily traveled street in Falcon Heights, according to a resolution introduced to the St. Anthony City Council. Mayor Jerry Faust wouldn’t put a dollar figure on those expenses, but said they were for data requests, additional manpower for protests and “numerous other things.”
The resolution passed unanimously Tuesday night.
“It would be inappropriate for St. Anthony to continue to assume this risk on behalf of Falcon Heights given its minimal public purpose to the taxpayers of St. Anthony,” the resolution read.
Falcon Heights signed a five-year contract in 2014 with the St. Anthony Police Department to patrol its streets and investigate crimes there, but the city of 6,000 has no oversight, supervision or authority over St. Anthony police. Falcon Heights will pay $672,590 for police services in 2017.
The resolution calls for the two cities to negotiate a fee for 2018 by June 15. If the increase proposed by St. Anthony exceeds 3 percent of the 2017 contract and is not accepted by Falcon Heights, then either city can reopen negotiations by July 15 or end the contract at year’s end.
A group of Falcon Heights residents has pushed for their city’s mayor and City Council to end the contract with St. Anthony since Castile was killed on July 6.
There were murmurs of discontent in the audience as the resolution was discussed.
Nancy Robinett of St. Anthony told the mayor and council members that she had questions on behalf of St. Anthony Villagers for Community Action:
How much money was involved? Doesn’t the contract between St. Anthony and Falcon Heights include liability insurance? Has there or will there be insurance reimbursement? Can Falcon Heights even buy insurance to cover another city’s actions?
“This is the beginning of the negotiation process,” Faust answered. “I’m not an insurance person. My guess is you can buy insurance for almost anything.” When Robinett tried to ask a follow-up question, Faust shut her down. “This is not a debate,” he said.
Before audience questions, Council Member Hal Gray said, “We’re opening a negotiation, that’s all, but we can’t be in a situation of putting taxpayers at risk.”
After the resolution passed, St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth summarized the Police Department’s 2016 annual report. The report was only about St. Anthony and did not include Falcon Heights or Lauderdale, which also contracts for police services.
It was the first time Mangseth had spoken publicly at a council meeting since Castile’s shooting.
He first mentioned that the Police Department was voluntarily involved in a recent comprehensive assessment by the U.S. Justice Department’s office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The COPS office released its goals and objectives statement Friday, but Mangseth did not talk about that document. He did talk about St. Anthony crime statistics, both violent and nonviolent, patrol stops, calls for service, traffic citations, arrests, retirements and hires. The annual report will be available on the St. Anthony city website starting Wednesday, he said.
Robinett again had questions and tried to address them to Mangseth, who was sitting behind her. But Faust repeatedly insisted that she address them to him and refused to answer any until she had listed all of them.
Mangseth answered some of the questions but he, too, was quieted by the mayor when he went into detail.