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OMGWTFBBQ ... MN Town Hires Mercenaries

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Foley opts for police contract with private company

11:30 PM, Nov. 29, 2011


FOLEY — Foley leaders have decided to sign a contract with a private company for police services after failing to reach an agreement with Benton County on a law enforcement contract.


The City Council voted Monday to contract with General Security Services Corp. for patrol services 24 hours a day, seven days a week at an annual cost of about $210,000. The six-month contract will begin Jan. 1.


Foley had been contracting with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement since disbanding its own police department in 2003. But the two sides haven’t been able to reach agreement on a contract.


In a mediation session with representatives the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office earlier this month, city and county officials tentatively agreed to a contract that would have provided 17.1 hours of coverage a day for $263,000 a year. But Foley officials wanted the sheriff’s office to appoint five core officers to patrol the city so residents would have more consistency.


That would be difficult since the department only has 14 deputies assigned to patrol, and some have been absent due to illness or injury, Sheriff Brad Bennett said.


“It could be a real problem with scheduling and everything else,” Bennett said. “It’s real hard to dedicate five officers just to one city.”


County Attorney Robert Raupp said he had concerns about how the contract would legally bind the sheriff’s office and what the ramifications would be if another officer was assigned to the city. He noted that the sheriff’s policy is to rotate officers so they are familiar with the entire county.


Foley will be the first city in Minnesota and one of a few in the nation to replace traditional law enforcement with private security officers. It’s expected to be closely watched by other cities looking to cut costs in tight budget times.


The city issued a news release Tuesday stating the services provided by General Security will be “similar to those provided by community service officers employed by other cities throughout Minnesota.”


The contract does not replace the role of law enforcement agencies in the city, the release states. The sheriff’s office will still respond to emergencies within city limits.


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Will the Fire Department be the next part of a cities administration to be contracted out?


That is one way to break a union's grip on what was once thought to be untouchable territory.

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