Opinions were heard, now hire the right Chief

After months of city council meetings with emotional residents voicing their support for the Montgomery Police Department, the City Council voted to keep the local police department and hire a new chief to lead it.
 
That is great news for a couple of reasons. One, that means the city can move forward and begin the process of hiring a replacement for John Schmidt who resigned in April. After listening to the public say they wanted their local department during public forums and official meetings, the council listened to the people and voted to keep the local force. 
 
The movement to keep the force also created the Facebook page “Save the Montgomery MN Police Department” that amassed more than 1,000 followers. This has created outward support for the local department, which I have never seen before, and the possible return of National Night Out. When we last had this event, years ago, it was a popular way for residents to connect with the local police officers, fire, rescue and ambulance departments. I am happy the momentum of the police department’s support might make this happen again.
 
The council voted 4 to 1 in favor of keeping the local force. Councilor Mick McGuire voiced his opposition, saying the city had the chance to “take the lead in the county and be leaders” by contracting with the county.
 
I respectfully disagree with his statement. The council’s decision was not about moving ahead or being better than other cities. Additionally, there is no proof that contracting with the county would have ever accomplished that. 
 
The decision at hand was to decide who would protect the taxpaying citizens. As city council members, their job is to listen to the people who voted them into office, as Mayor John Grimm stated. 
 
According to the League of Minnesota Cities, councilmembers, “should devote their official time to problems of basic policy and act as liaisons between the city and the general public. Councilmembers should be concerned, not only with the conduct of daily affairs, but also with the future development of the city.”
 
There was a lot of information presented over the past couple of months. Budgets, coverage, and officer experience were among the many subjects discussed. After a new chief is hired, these will still be hot-button issues that the chief and council will need to examine closely. 
 
 
I commend and applaud the Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Brett Mason and his crew for coming into a department that appeared to be inadequately supervised for some time. From an outsider’s perspective, he did a great job building criminal cases against some of the crime in the community, issuing warrants and cleaning up our streets. More work needs to be done, however, and I hope the new chief is just as aggressive at protecting us.