“With Dean Vereide retiring as of June 30, we needed to designate someone as our interim chief,” City Administrator Kathy Bailey says. “We had three choices – use one of our current officers, hire (Winnebago Police Chief) Bob Toland, or contract with the county sheriff.”
Bailey says the City Council gave her the go ahead to negotiate a temporary contract with the sheriff to fill in as interim police chief until the city makes a decision on the future of the police department.
“This doesn’t mean we are contracting with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement,” Bailey says. “This is just to have the sheriff fill in with the duties of the chief.”
Bailey herself will do some of those chief duties, such as scheduling equipment repairs and maintenance. The sheriff will assist the local police officers with things such as schedule changes, investigations and signing off on reports and other paperwork.
“Our local citizens should see no difference in police protection or service,” Bailey says.
She also adds that this is a temporary situation, until the council finishes investigating options and decides how to proceed with police service in the city.
The council is continuing talks with both the county and the city of Winnebago to provide law enforcement coverage in Blue Earth.
Plus, the city is also starting the interview process in case the decision is to keep the department themselves and hire a new chief.
“We had nine applications come in before the June 15 deadline,” Bailey says. “Now we are starting the evaluation process.”
She says the process could take some time. First, all the candidates are compared based on their qualifications and rated. Next comes a personality survey evaluation.
Then, the next step is the interview process itself. Finally, a selection will be made and presented to the council.
Bailey adds that she will be overseeing the selection procedure.
“I will be giving the council an update on the process at the next council meeting,” she says. That meeting is slated for Tuesday, July 5.
At some point in time, Bailey says, the council will need to make a decision on which avenue to pursue – contracting out the law enforcement service, or keeping their own local department and hiring a new chief of police.
“In the meantime, we are still continuing discussions on all the options,” she says.