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Editorial: County should pay for second investigator

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opinion Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

At a time when Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes was making yet another impassioned plea for a second criminal investigator, the county board was quietly axing that request from his budget.

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Aukes made the point Tuesday that public safety isn’t like other departments, subject to cuts and cutbacks.

For the most part the sheriff has done a good job on his manpower situation, balancing the need for 24/7 patrol, adding a drug officer and making internal changes.

On this point, Aukes is right.

The department’s clearance rate – solving or disposing of cases – is abysmal by Aukes’ own measure.

That is not the fault of the department.

Currently the investigator is seen at car accidents, medical calls and other incidents such as fires.

He should be at his desk solving crimes, major crimes at that, not responding to traffic calls.

We’re seeing a spate of crimes that are getting more serious, such as the multi-county burglary ring recently busted.

Nothing aggravates a taxpayer so much as an unsolved break-in. Homeowners feel violated and should. Half of the Hubbard County population leaves for the winter, trusting that their homes will be safe.

With an 8 percent clearance rate for burglaries and thefts, 92 of every 100 households broken into will never have the satisfaction of seeing their possessions again.

The average loss for each case is now over $1,000, so these aren’t petty crimes.

Domestic incidents proliferate at an alarming rate in Hubbard County due to a variety of factors.

The positive point is that, thanks to the county’s drug officer, more of those crimes are coming to court.

Aukes believes a second investigator will make a commensurate dent in other crimes, especially while neighboring counties such as Beltrami have four investigators. Many county attorneys’ offices have a special investigator assigned.

Hubbard County doesn’t.

Aukes deserves the chance to prove his theory. Board members need to loosen the purse strings, stop handing out $24,000 raises willy nilly, and address what’s really important to the taxpayers.

After all, those taxpayers are the board’s constituents.

PARK RAPIDS ENTERPRISE

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