Addressing several hundred residents via Facebook Live on Sunday night, Mara Bain, a Forest Lake City Council member, congratulated a city that had "just accomplished the impossible" and predicted the City Council would approve a new contract with the Forest Lake Police Department Monday night, effectively preserving the force.
"It really would be nice to end this on a 5-0 [vote]," said Bain, a vocal supporter of the city's Police Department.
The City Council's Monday vote is expected to be a sharp turnaround from a controversial decision just a week earlier to disband the force.
On May 8, the council by a 3-2 vote endorsed a plan to contract with the Washington County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services. The move would save the city of about 20,000 residents around $385,000 annually, according to Mayor Ben Winnick, who cast the deciding vote to shutter the department of 25 officers.
Winnick didn't respond to the Star Tribune's phone request for comment on Sunday.
Residents rallied in support of their officers and local control. They spoke out at a county board meeting, urging commissioners to veto any contract with the city. Students walked out of classes at Forest Lake Area High School in support of the local police.
The Sheriff's Office last week withdrew from a proposed contract to provide policing in Forest Lake.
For some Forest Lake residents, the issue of whether the city should keep its own police or go with the county prompted involvement in local government for the first time, Bain said.
"This issue has ignited a fire within many of you," Bain said.
By Wednesday night, the city, its police union and the Sheriff's Office reached a tentative deal to keep the department intact. The new contract would give salary increases in each of the next three years and would continue retiree health benefits, which previously had been a sticking point.
It's not unusual for cities to contract with the county for police services — dozens of cities across the metro do so — but Forest Lake would have been the largest Washington County city without its own force.
Bain fielded other questions she said she's heard from residents, including ones about what comes next.
"Clearly this council has some reconciliation to do," Bain said. "We need to work together."