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Local

Morrison chief: It’s time for reinforcements

Melton says adding officer would help understaffed, overworked department

MORRISON — A referendum Tuesday will ask Morrison voters if they want to help fund an additional police officer for the city.

Police Chief Brian Melton said another officer is greatly needed since the workload of the department has increased through the years and likely will go up even more as warm weather approaches.

Voters are being asked to allow the city to raise the available police levy to a rate not to exceed .225 percent of the value of all its taxable property.

The department now has six officers and Melton to handle the police patrols and activity for the city of about 4,100. A study done about 10 years ago showed the city should have about 10 officers, and City Administrator Barry Dykhuizen said recent city research found Morrison has the smallest number of officers per capita in the northern part of the state.

The cost to add another officer would be at the most $77,000, including 14 weeks of training, equipment and salary, he said.

Melton's officers are having a hard time keeping up: Case volume is up 27 percent, and the number of service calls they respond to also are on the rise, he said.

When the call load increases, that slows down investigations: Officers on patrol answering calls have less time to investigate. Another officer would help reduce the backlog, he said.

If the referendum is approved, he hopes the new officer could start by the fall.

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