Herald Journal Columns
May 29, 2006, Herald Journal

When will Cokato have police?

By ROZ KOHLS

When the humidity in the air goes up to a specific level, and the temperature goes down to a specific level, it rains. Meteorologists call this the “dew point.”

I wonder what the “dew point” is for Cokato getting its own police department? Right now, the crime rate is low. Wright County Sheriff’s deputies are providing adequate protection despite their headquarters being far away in Buffalo. Cokato residents seem satisfied with the status quo. The “dew point” has not been reached.

Still, I’m surprised that a town with the population of Cokato does not have its own police department. My hometown not only has its own police department, but has the McLeod County Sheriff’s office in it. I enjoy having this double layer of protection. It makes me feel secure.

Last year when a pervert was trolling for little children around Cokato Elementary School, I expected that would trigger some discussion about getting a police department, but it didn’t.

Six months earlier, when Countryside Furniture was burglarized, thieves appeared to have cased the store thoroughly in advance. The thieves might have concluded that Cokato was an easy target without its own police force. I thought that would trigger discussion about a police force, but no “dew point” there, either.

I figure three different “dew points,” for a Cokato Police Department are possible.

The first, a terrible crime will occur within the city limits, much worse than the burglary of Countryside Furniture. The people of Cokato will be outraged county deputies couldn’t get here in time to prevent it.

The second, a chance to land a big job-producing company is lost. The company is scared off because of a perceived lack of security within the city. People who are interested in economic development will coalesce around this issue.

The third depends on money. If the city can get the same level or more protection for less than what it costs to use county deputies, the Cokato community will jump at the chance. Cokato might pay to share in Dassel’s already established police department, for example.

There’s another possibility but it is remote. The city council might be waiting for the population or tax base of Cokato to reach a certain level, and then it will act to establish a police department. The city council is currently busy with other time-consuming projects, so it’s unlikely the council is even thinking of a police force right now, much less putting a threshold in place for it.

I hope Cokato is not waiting for a big crime to happen first. Crime always has at least one victim and no one wants to be that victim.


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