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Howard Lake City Council hears annual police department report
July 20, 2018

By Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE – Howard Lake Police Chief Dave Thompson presented the 2017 police department report to the Howard Lake City Council at its meeting July 17.

Who’s wearing the blue?

Thompson began by naming the department’s two full-time officers, Eric Anderson and Darek Szczepanik, as well as current part-time and reserve officers. (See photo.)

City police statistics

Statistically, Thompson reported, 2017 wasn’t vastly different from 2016.

In 2016, the Howard Lake Police Department responded to 169 medical calls, compared to 161 in 2017.

Domestic calls increased from 34 in 2016, to 47 in 2017. Thompson indicated that the majority of the 2017 domestic calls were for help with verbal domestic altercations, as opposed to physical ones. He also noted that there had been no more than three domestic calls to a single residence throughout 2017.

Motor vehicle crash numbers remained similar: 44 occurred in 2016, and there were 47 in 2017. Thomspon reported the majority of crashes occur along, or near Highway 12.

Thefts decreased from 40 to 32; damage to property increased from 16 to 26. Thompson noted that some of the increase could be attributed to one evening in 2017, during which multiple vehicles were damaged on Haywood Drive.

Burglaries took a significant drop moving from nine incidents in 2016, to two in 2017.

The number of drug-related calls remained steady, with 18 reported in 2016, and 19 reported in 2017. Disorderly call numbers were also similar, with seven calls received in 2016, and 10 calls in 2017.

Assault calls dropped by half, from eight in 2016 to four in 2017.

Significant police department incidents

Thompson told the council that there had been one fatal pedestrian-involved crash in 2017. He noted the driver involved had been charged with criminal vehicular homicide.

Thompson also mentioned a stolen fleeing vehicle incident that occurred in June. The incident began when an individual’s tablet was stolen from his vehicle. The individual tracked the device and called multiple area agencies to report the tablet’s location.

Several agencies assisted in tracking the thief’s vehicle, eventually stopping it with spike strips. The vehicle came to rest near a corn field, and the alleged thief took off into the field on foot.

The thief lost a sandal in the chase, and an officer later noticed a person wearing just one sandal in Waverly. The sandal recovered near the vehicle at the corn field was the match to the one the individual in Waverly was wearing.

Thompson noted this person has a record which shows a habit of stealing items and running from law enforcement.

He also noted several stolen items were returned to the rightful owners due to registered serial numbers.

Thompson discussed one other Howard Lake-specific chronic issue: vehicles hitting the railroad bridge. Officially 14 hits were reported in 2017. Thompson and city staffers believe the number to be higher, based on a large number of various damaged vehicular parts found surrounding the railroad bridge.

Thompson was pleased to report that there had been no bridge hits during the Winstock Country Music Festival in June.

Police department initiatives

Thompson noted that three drug overdoses in 2017 had been successfully treated by Narcan, which the ambulance stocks. The police department had officers at all three incidents, and Howard Lake police officers have now been trained in the use of Narcan, and carry it with them, as well.

(Narcan, or naloxone is an opioid antagonist used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdose, including respiratory depression. Narcan is also used for diagnosis of suspected or known acute opioid overdose, according to RXlist.com.)

The Howard Lake Police Department joined forces with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Sex Trafficking Task Force. This allows the Howard Lake Police Department to obtain the task force’s investigative services as needed.

Thompson said the radar speed signs placed around the edges of the city have been very effective in slowing traffic down.

He also reported the successful implementation of the Community Service Officer (CSO) position, recently filled by Jordon Goodman. The CSO tackles administrative work, city code enforcement, vehicle maintenance, the transportation of evidence, and the transportation of stray animals to Crossroads Animal Shelter in Buffalo.

The CSO position is scheduled for 12 to 18 hours weekly. Goodman’s hours will primarily be worked Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Thompson said the Howard Lake Police Department’s transition to the Zuercher RMS communication system should go into service sometime in November.

Eventually, all Wright County law enforcement agencies will be run via Zuercher RMS, allowing faster and more efficient communications between departments.

Thompson mentioned Howard Lake Police Department officers had donated 249 hours to the community throughout 2017, serving at National Night Out, Good Neighbor Days, and other community events.

Council recognizes Goepfert

The council took several moments to personally thank longtime Howard Lake public works staffer Tom Goepfert, for nearly three decades of service to the City of Howard Lake.

It was noted Goepfert’s spouse, Paulette, will be hosting a public retirement party at the historic city hall Friday, Aug. 3 from 4 to 10 p.m. (Watch for an article about Goepfert and his memories of Howard Lake in an upcoming issue of Herald Journal.)

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• appointed election judges Shari Zander (head election judge), Aurora Yager, Barb Gueningsman, Wanda Werner, Jean Schmidt, Tracy Drake, and William Karsten.

• approved a two-year contract with Ken Yager for city assessing services for 2019-20.

• approved updated job descriptions for the public works department.

• directed city staff to advertise for bids for the historic city hall preservation project. (The council rejected the one bid it received for the project at its last meeting.) Bid opening will take place Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 2 p.m.; bids will be considered and awarded by the city council Tuesday, Sept. 18. Project commencement and completion dates are intentionally being left flexible in an attempt to solicit more bids.

• approved Howard Lake’s National Night Out observance for Friday, Aug. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Memorial Park. The event will be similar to those in years past. Firefighters and police officers and their vehicles will be present, and hot dogs and root beer floats will be served.

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