By Anne Holzman
After a year of uncertainty about where law enforcement would come from next year, the Falcon Heights City Council on Nov. 10 approved a one-year contract extension with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office for police services.
Mayor Randy Gustafson, who works for the sheriff’s office, told the council that the terms of the new contract were the same as the old but the fee was being cut. Falcon Heights will pay $1.14 million for police services in 2022, less than the 2021 amount by almost $49,000 or about 4%.
Sheriff Bob Fletcher had told Falcon Heights in fall 2020 that a contract extension would have to include round-the-clock coverage by another officer at a cost of $350,000. With that in mind, the Falcon Heights City Council directed staff to explore other options. The only viable option appeared to be a contract with St. Paul Police, which was under discussion last summer.
Then the State Fair eliminated their police department and contracted with Ramsey County through the end of 2021. Falcon Heights staff told the council that it was unclear how long that arrangement would last with the State Fair. But Fletcher noted, at that time, that with officers assigned to both jurisdictions, they can back each other up and Falcon Heights wouldn’t need to pay for another police position.
During discussion at the Nov. 10 meeting about the new policing contract, Gustafson told the council about “scuttlebutt” that the State Fair “is likely going to set up their own police department again next year.” He said that’s why the sheriff’s office new contract with Falcon Heights was planned only for one year.
“We’re going to go through this again next year,” he said, adding that the one-year extension “gives us the option to look at things.”
With Gustafson abstaining because he is employed by the county, and Councilwoman Kay Andrews absent, the council voted 3-0 in favor of contracting for police services with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office through 2022.
Anne Holzman covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale government news for the Bugle.