Aggressive policing scrutinized in Rush City

Earlier last month, the Rush City Council learned how busy county deputies were in keeping the community safe last year.

As important as public safety is, however, can policing in such roles as traffic patrol go overboard in a city of about 3,000 people?

During public comment time at the Jan. 28 council meeting, long-time resident Mike Robinson voiced concerns over deputies who have been stopping and ticketing local residents in an apparent “speed trap” north of town where the speed limit transitions to and from 55 mph.

“I know it’s illegal (to speed), but I believe it’s morally wrong,” he said of enforcing such a patrol on folks in a quieter side of town at a speed zone change. “Cops are suppose to be on our side, not against us and our businesses. I’ve received a lot of complaints from people.”

City Administrator Amy Mell noted she received one complaint, but otherwise is not getting calls. She did confirm fielding calls on another issue, one that is contrary to overzealous deputies.

“I have had complaints with people speeding on County Road 30 and 4th Street,” she said of motorists not abiding to the slower posted speed zones leading to the downtown area.

It was mentioned that a new evening deputy recently started, so he may be more on the aggressive side as new officers can be on the job. He may be active and stopping several people, but he’s also doing his job, Mell pointed out.

Robinson, the District 5 commissioner on the Chisago County Board, noted he helped bring the county deputy service to Rush City about 15 years ago due in large part to overly aggressive, younger officers at the time.

In light of the complaints this time around, Robinson urged the council to discuss the issue with the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, as he already tried talking to Sgt. Jason Foster and Sheriff Rick Duncan.

In other news, the council:

• Approved a mutual aid fire service agreement between the city of Rush City and the Grantsburg Fire Association subject to city attorney review.

• Approved Dave Schroeder Jr. as lieutenant and Bob Carlson as chief for the next three years on the Rush City Fire Department.

• Reviewed the latest draft of an ordinance regulating public nuisances within the city. City Administrator Amy Mell noted a public hearing on the matter has to be held first before the council can adopt it.

• Agreed to bring a proposed criminal history background check ordinance to public hearing at a future council meeting.

• Discussed a potential land sale involving Interstate Energy Partners and the industrial park.

• Learned Rush City’s 2013 certified local government aid from the state is $620,496, while the city’s 2014 estimated LGA is $589,586, all under current law. Under Governor Mark Dayton’s 2014 proposal, Rush City’s LGA amount is estimated at $713,226.

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