Law enforcement increasing resources

Published 6:59 am Monday, September 30, 2013

Even though the local crime rate may not be on the rise, law enforcement agencies are ramping up their efforts in response to more emergency calls and tougher cases.

After an Austin police officer’s employment was terminated earlier this year, the Austin Police Department may be set to welcome a new officer as early as Oct. 7. Christopher Garbisch, a veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department and a Brownsdale native, will bring his law enforcement skills to Austin.

The new hire brings the department back up to 31 officers and will help alleviate burdensome overtime and a strain on the budget, according to Police Chief Brian Krueger.

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“We need the additional staff to handle the volume of calls we’re getting,” he said.

To help further, the Austin City Council recently approved Krueger’s request to up the force to 32 officers. Krueger said detectives are doing background checks on the pool of applicants and hope to make a decision soon. That way, the new hire will have ample notice and be able to start by early January.

Krueger said although the crime rate has remained relatively steady over the last two decades, his department has been strained by the sheer amount of calls for service. There is also a demand to more closely monitor predatory offenders. Even with the 32nd officer, he said, he believes the decrease in overtime hours will be in line with the budget.

On the county’s end, the Mower County Sheriff’s Office has ramped up its efforts with a new investigator, Bruce Hemann, who was promoted from within the department. Another was promoted to deputy to fill his vacancy, as well. Amazi said at Mower County Board meetings that her office hasn’t seen a huge increase in overall crimes, but she has seen more serious crimes.

Cases such a shooting at Lansing Corners event center north of Austin in November 2012 left Amazi “frustrated,” along with her investigators strapped for time. She added she isn’t sure if that case — in which five people were shot but never cooperated with investigators for fear of gang retaliation — will ever be solved.

Moving ahead though, the new investigator could help solve an influx of scams. Amazi and Mower County Attorney Kristen Nelsen have seen an increase of people swindling money from senior citizens.