County Board OKs contract for law enforcement with City of Lyle

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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The Mower County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday morning approved entering into a contract for law enforcement services by the Mower County Sheriff’s Department with the City of Lyle.

The move is the final step of a process for Lyle in ending its own law enforcement, represented solely by Lyle Police Chief Tom Herrick. It’s a move which Lyle Mayor Ron Frank said was a necessity for the city.

“It’s getting to where the nature of law enforcement and the hoops you have to jump through — training, management of personnel — is getting to be too much for a small town to handle,” Frank said.

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The contract with Lyle is similar to that which the Sheriff’s Office has with the communities of Adams and Leroy, which will include patrol services for at least five hours a day, seven days a week, with hours patrolled in the community spread through the shifts of the Sheriff’s Office.

The contract also includes:

• Proactive patrol services

• Response to calls for service and investigation

• Transport and jail services

• Criminal investigations for major crimes

• Crime scene processing

• Evidence processing and storage

• Warrant services

• South East Minnesota Violent Crimes Enforcement Team

• Emergency Response Team

• Access to Mower County Posse and Reserve Unit

• Emergency Management Response Team and Resources

• Hiring, training, and performance management of staff

“They gain all of the Sheriff’s Office’s professional resources and lose a lot of the liability of operating their own police department in that interaction,” said Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik.

Total cost to the City of Lyle is pro-rated to $72,280 for this year, with the contract going into affect on March 1. Sandvik said that in 2025, it is expected to raise close to just under $92,000, again similar to that of Adams and LeRoy.

Frank said the cost of the contract nearly equals that of what the city currently has budgeted for law enforcement.

To keep up with the contract, the County Commissioners authorized the hiring of another deputy Tuesday, with Sandvik adding that an offer has been made to a candidate with hopes that the new deputy can start within a month’s time.

Lyle started looking at dissolving its police department going back to last year, and the council officially voted on it on Feb. 14 after holding a public informational meeting on Feb. 12. They reached out to the Sheriff’s Office at the start of the year to see about viability.

“Before we voted on this we had a community meeting for people to voice their opinions,” Frank said. “It was well attended and most everybody was in favor. This is not news to anybody in town.”

Frank also said that this new arrangement is a benefit for the community.

“I think it’s a step forward for us to provide service for our citizens,” he said.

Sandvik agreed.

“I think it will be good,” he said. “We have a system in place to send a night sergeant down once a month to meet with the city council to eget that in place with Lyle.”