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Osakis Voices: Police wrap up record busy year

Happy New Year to you all from the Osakis Police Department! We had another record breaking year in 2018 for our Calls for Services for our small but busy department.

A Call for Service (CFS) refers to assignments that require an officer's presence to resolve, correct, or assist a particular situation. The calls are generally initiated by the public through 911 calls or non-emergency phone calls. CFS can also be self-initiated by officers as well, like when we perform business or residence checks, stopping in at school during a ballgame, presenting to groups such as DARE and the area Boy and Girl Scouts, or if we happen upon an incident while out patrolling that requires our assistance, like a stalled vehicle or suspicious activity at night. We are very active with initiating our own CFS in town and are continually patrolling, visiting with area youth around town and stopping in at businesses and visiting with their employees to keep our town safe.

Every CFS requires some documentation before it can be finished and the next CFS be handled, depending on the urgency of the incident. Some CFS can be handled over the phone and documented with a few sentences, but most are performed in person and can result in further investigation like a burglary, thefts or assault, which requires interviewing all involved persons, possible arrests and search warrant executions, or referrals to other agencies such as social services and probation for further investigation through their agencies, or the city or county attorney to review the CFS for potential criminal charges that they file. These CFS require lots of detailed reports and evidence documentation.

At the OPD, we handle calls alone, due to not having another officer working with us, where other agencies can assign multiple officers to a CFS. We do get assistance from other agencies for CFS that require additional officers for safety reasons, like domestic assaults and other high risk calls. We can initiate and complete CFS from our squad computers, as well as complete most of our reports, which is very efficient when compared to having to return to the office. We can park along a busy street or an area of interest and type and watch traffic and going-ons at the same time.

As I mentioned we had another record breaking year in 2018 and our CFS totaled 4,084, compared to 2017 at 3,147, 2016 at 2,680, and 2015 at 2,160. While we do contribute the rising CFS to having had past additional part-time officer coverage in addition to the full time officer's coverage, we have also have had large increases in self-initiated CFS involving foot patrol around town, business checks, parking enforcement, and dog and property ordinance enforcement. Juvenile trouble went up this past year and we are constantly visiting with youth out and about to try to alleviate it. We continue to issue more recreational vehicle permits for ATVs and side-by-side vehicles in town and have had more car accidents as well. Our suicide attempts and threats are noticeably higher and thefts have almost doubled, but our burglaries are down by 60 percent. We have also noticed a large increase in employee thefts from their employers the past few years.

We performed 1,197 traffic stops last year and issued 241 citations, although some citations are not related to traffic stops (e.g. theft, disorderly conduct, drug paraphernalia, etc.). We arrested 35 people this year, with 10 of those being drunk drivers, which is down from prior years.

Compared to other area law enforcement agencies, we handle hundreds more CFS per officer each year. We will continue to be very active in our community to keep Osakis a great place to live and raise our families in and truly appreciate all the support we receive from you, which makes it all worth it!

We also appreciate your help with contacting us about issues or criminal activity in town, we need your help to keep our town safe! Don't forget to like and follow the Osakis Police Department on Facebook for up to date information happening in our community and our activities. Make this a great year!

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts on their field of expertise.