The Albertville City Council listened to an update from Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer at its Oct. 18 meeting. The city of Albertville currently contracts with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office for 28 hours of coverage per day, meaning two deputies overlap shifts during busy times four hours per day. Deringer recommends the city add two hours per day to the service agreement starting in 2023.
Deringer explained that Albertville has grown in population and that about 29% of the city’s calls for service are handled by non-Albertville units. Some of the cities that the Wright County Sheriff’s Office also contracts out to are St. Michael, Delano, Hanover and Otsego.
“When you contract for hours, it’s deputy hours in a squad car in your city,” Deringer said.
Councilor Aaron Cocking asked Deringer if sharing sheriff cars with other cities when they need help and visa versa would become a problem.
“Are we running up against issues where you have the Albertville [sheriff] car that’s busy and you’re rolling over a St. Michael or Otsego [sheriff] car that comes from where ever in those cities that then you’re ending up with calls that are either longer call time or not being responded to in a timely fashion?” Cocking asked. “Are we creating a domino effect and are you seeing a need for more Wright county officers as a whole because everyone is seeing a higher demand in calls?”
Deringer responded that the sharing of cars between cities isn’t a big problem because they all work together.
“I don’t think it’s a domino effect,” Deringer said. “We do a really good job if an Albertville car is going to Otsego to assist or St. Michael it’s at the approval of a watch command... They do a good job shuffling the deck when they need to... and we all work together.”
A problem Deringer does foresee is filling vacant positions within the sheriff’s office.
“The thing that is keeping me up at night is our future ability to recruit and retain,” he said. “In [spring] 2020, we had 139 applicants. This year [at the]same time of the year we had 36.”
Police forces across the metro area are having labor shortages. St. Paul, Minneapolis and the state patrol have more openings available than the state can fulfill, according to Deringer.
“We have to find a way to be competitive in the marketplace and stay competitive in the marketplace,” he said.
Deringer wants to come back a year from now and continue the conversation about adding two hours to the scheduling to bring Albertville to 30-hour per day coverage. He came to the council at the Oct. 18 meeting to give them time to consider and keep it in mind as they look at the 2023 budget.
Councilor Bob Zagorski asked if other cities are willing to accept the Wright County Sheriff’s recommendations on increases as well.
“The answer can’t be no,” Deringer said. “There has to be some give and take there can’t be a flat no without explanation.”
The city council at the meeting also:
APPROVED a vacation easement for Huering Meadows Commons Final Plat. The vacated easements are within the Final Plat and do not affect any of the surrounding properties.
APPROVED a zoning code ordinance amendment repealing outdoor storage as a principal use within the Albertville Commercial and Industrial Zoning Districts.