Mayor sees need for city detective on county Drug Task Force

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Elk River Mayor John Dietz has become convinced that the city needs to put a detective on Sherburne County’s Drug Task Force.

The position has been requested by Police Chief Brad Rolfe, but is not in the city’s preliminary 2014 budget at this time. The budget will be finalized in December.

Dietz told council members during a Sept. 3 budget work session that he has had a long conversation with Sheriff Joel Brott about the drug task force. “I guess he convinced me that it would be a good thing for Elk River to have a person on this drug task force,” Dietz said.

The cost of the position (pay and benefits) was initially estimated at $98,950, but that number is now believed to be about $30,000 less. Rolfe said it’s likely that an existing officer would be promoted as the drug task force detective and a new officer hired to fill the vacancy. Total cost of filling the officer position and the promoting an officer to detective is estimated at $65,000 to $74,000, Rolfe said.

Rolfe also noted that if the city has a detective on the task force, it would be eligible to receive a percent of forefeitures.

“What that number is, I can’t predict,” Rolfe said.

The task force investigates most of the suspected illegal drug activity in Elk River and the rest of the county. It includes a sergeant and three detectives from the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office also has an employee assigned to the DEA and another to the Violent Offender Task Force in St. Cloud.

Dietz said a quarter of the cases the Sherburne County Drug Task Force works on involve Elk River.

One of Rolfe’s goals for 2014 is to reduce illegal drug and associated criminal activity in Elk River. He had said earlier that his department is looking to address concerns about heroin use. There were 11 heroin overdose deaths in Sherburne County in 2012, according to the sheriff’s office.