Falcon Heights shops for new police contract

The City of Falcon Heights could end its policing contract with the City of St. Anthony at the end of this year.

In a special meeting April 5, the Falcon Heights City Council authorized city administrator Sack Thongvanh to send letters to area police departments to gauge interest in policing in the city. The council’s decision to shop for a new police contract came on the heels of the March 28 action by the St. Anthony City Council to make the city of Falcon Heights solely liable for any police incident within its borders.

Thongvanh will send letters to police departments in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Roseville, Maplewood and New Brighton, along with posting a letter on the League Minnesota Cities website. If letters of interest are returned, the city can then request proposals.

Since the July 2016 fatal shooting of Philando Castile by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez on Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights, both Falcon Heights and St. Anthony have incurred mounting expenses that aren’t covered under the liability insurance that is part of the $672,590 contract Falcon Heights has with St. Anthony.

“Data requests, staff time and equipment use—that’s not covered under liability insurance,” Thongvanh said. Falcon Heights had to rent equipment such as barricades during the protests after the shooting, an out-of-pocket expense that was reimbursed by St. Anthony, Thongvanh said.

“The city of St. Anthony has spent $400,000 in data requests at this time,” but the city chose to hire an expensive law firm to handle those requests, Thongvanh said.

Since last summer’s shooting, the Falcon Heights City Council has been under pressure by citizens to end the contract with St. Anthony. The current contract continues through Dec. 31, 2019. The contract allows the two cities to renegotiate for calendar year 2018 in June. If St. Anthony proposes an increase that exceeds 3 percent of the current year’s fee, Falcon Heights can reject that and either re-negotiate or end the contract at the end of this year.

Both Falcon Heights and Lauderdale contract with St. Anthony for police services, but the March 28 decision addresses only Falcon Heights.

“St. Anthony may need to consider future revisions to its agreement with Lauderdale as well,” said St. Anthony city manager Mark Casey. “However, at this point, it is more vital that additional clarity be sought between St. Anthony and Falcon Heights. In our experience, significantly more resources are required to meet the policing demands in Falcon Heights. This is due, in part, to a greater number of commercial areas and high traffic streets as compared to Lauderdale. In addition, the costs of additional risks are known in Falcon Heights at this time.”



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