Falcon Heights to end policing contract with Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
By Anne Holzman
The city of Falcon Heights and the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office announced at the end of March they would not renew their current contract for police services for 2024.
The timing met a nine-month deadline for declaring intent regarding non-renewal of the one-year contract. Going forward, the city is studying what next to do for policing services.
Last fall, the city hired consultant and former Sheriff Matt Bostrom, doing business as the Center for Values-Based Initiatives, to review the city’s policing needs and recommend a path forward. Bostrom presented his report to the Falcon Heights City Council at their March 22 meeting.
Bostrom’s report noted a “lack of alignment” between residents’ priorities for policing and their perception of the Sheriff’s Office services.
Falcon Heights is one of seven north metro suburbs currently receiving police services under contract with the county, but the others are not immediate neighbors. This has led to strained negotiations over who pays for a squad car to traverse the distance into the city and how many hours of each day the city needs its own staff and car.
Bostrom concluded that Falcon Heights does not fit the same model as the other cities and should not continue in the shared contract. He suggested that Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office might be willing to consider an independent contract.
The contract for policing in Falcon Heights has been in flux ever since the city’s relationship with St. Anthony Police broke off after police killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights in 2016. The city settled on a contract with the Sheriff in 2017. The city has also contracted with Roseville for some police services over the years.
In 2020, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Falcon Heights officials that he’d charge them for additional coverage the following year, then revised his estimate after the State Fair dissolved its force and picked up a contract with the Sheriff, changing the budget math. The State Fair has since reinstated its police department but still has a variety of contracts with surrounding jurisdictions.
In 2021, Falcon Heights city council and staff explored the costs and benefits of setting up the city’s own police department and also considered a contract with St. Paul Police but ended up continuing with the Sheriff’s Office.
Anne Holzman is a Twin Cities freelance writer and covers Falcon Heights government news for the Bugle.