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City council reconsiders SWAT training plan

A request to form a SWAT team that was denied by the Kenmare City Council several months ago, indirectly resurfaced Monday night (Dec. 10) during the regular December meeting.

12/18/18 (Tue)

A request to form a SWAT team that was denied by the Kenmare City Council several months ago, indirectly resurfaced Monday night (Dec. 10) during the regular December meeting.

Sgt. Chris Almlie had requested and received a grant of nearly $15,000 from Vets Gaming to carry out forming a SWAT team.

The council shot it down for two reasons; they hadn’t been informed and they wanted to wait until the election was over to see if area sheriff’s departments would change or not.

On Monday, Almlie brought the grant up once again saying a $14,957 grant was approved seven months ago. But this time, the focus would be on training law enforcement officers about SWAT situations.

The training would be conducted in Kenmare and would include as many as 20 law enforcement officers from various agencies.

“We have talked before about tactical training,” Almlie said. “We can’t train enough on something that could kill you.”

The training would be five days in length and would be eight hours per day, according to Almlie. The course would include classroom training and field training.

He suggested some of the field training could be done at Kenmare High School and some could be done at the Irvin Hotel in downtown Kenmare in an effort to replicate urban stand-off situations.

According to Almlie, each officer would be responsible for a $200 or $300 fee and would include officers from Ward, Renville, Bottineau, Divide and Burke counties as well as officers from several individual cities.

“This was delayed to wait for the election,” said council member Glen Froseth. “There are three new sheriffs in the counties you mentioned. Maybe we should wait until they are settled in.”

But, Ward County Sheriff-elect Robert Roed was in attendance and was asked about his opinion regarding this tactical training.

Roed told the council law enforcement can never get too much training and he would be willing to send at least a couple of officers to Kenmare for the training.

Beyond that he wouldn’t commit because he is learning that he has a budget to deal with and has officers already assigned.

According to Almlie, the training would provide knowledge and skills that would carry over to any aspect of the job of a law enforcement officer.

The course would teach confidence and competence, it teaches basic and advanced tactics and knowledge and proficiency of these skills is paramount in this line of work.

“In today’s world, entire departments train in active shooter response operations,” Almlie said. “Basic SWAT school works on movement, pivots, transition to hand gun and back to long guns, backing out, simulated entry work and high stress situations. These are the same skills street officers need to know.”

After reiterating that the grant money would be used exclusively for training and not to form a SWAT team, council member Jim Burud made a motion to lift a cease and desist order on the grant. It passed unanimously.

However, the OK to use the grant will have to wait another month as the council voted to table it until January, pending a commitment from Vets Gaming to administer the grant.

Almlie said he will talk to Vets Gaming representatives to confirm the grant.

 Two bids were received for a Ford Expedition the police department placed up for sale. The high bid was from Shane Lawson of Minot who bid $2,100. Lawson will assume ownership once he turns in a cashier’s check.

Police Chief Allisha Britton provided her monthly report, telling the council 342 calls for service were documented in November.

They included 12 domestic situations, 4 misdemeanors, 2 assaults, 3 break-ins, 1 suicide, 3 juvenile cases, 17 motorist assists, 22 traffic stops and 8 citations.

• In other business:

The council debated pay raises and Christmas bonuses for city employees.

In one motion, the council voted 4-1 to give Bradley Peterson a $1 per hour raise. Peterson started his job with public works in August and has completed his probationary period.

The council also voted 4-1 to give Cliff Emmel, who works at the landfill and recycling center, a 75-cent raise and deputy auditor Kinzie Jensen was granted a 6 percent increase in her salary. Finally, auditor Grant Johnson’s salary was increased by 2.5 percent.

It was assumed that employees would receive a $600 bonus this month, however, Froseth was concerned about the amount since both police officers and public works director Rob Shelton received pay raises in July.

“I can’t agree with that,” Froseth said. “It isn’t equal.”

As a result, Froseth requested $300 bonuses for Shelton, Almlie and Britton and $600 for the rest of the city employees.

He said dividing the bonus money in such a way would only be fair to all the city employees.

Shelton strongly disagreed, saying it wasn’t fair in his opinion and after expressing his opinion to Froseth, walked out of the meeting.

Following more discussion, the council voted, once again on a 4-1 vote, to allow the split bonuses.

Later in the meeting, as council members were analyzing bills, Shelton re-entered the council chambers and had another chat with the council.

It was later determined that all the city employees should be granted a $600 bonus. The original vote was rescinded and a new one taken to reflect the change.

• Accountant Jan Kostad briefed the council on the state of the city’s financial situation. He broke it down into separate accounts and said money might have to be transferred from one account to another in order to stay afloat at the end of the year, but overall the city’s financial affairs were stable.

As a result, $15,000 was transferred from the recreation fund to the general fund, $100,000 was transferred from the sales tax fund to the municipal highway fund and an unknown emergency fund not to exceed $5,000 was transferred to the municipal highway fund.

• Ken Callahan representing MDU, told the council the electric company will be replacing all its street lights in Kenmare.

“Sometime in January, the lights will be stored,” he said. “Then we’ll start replacing them.” ... 

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