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Park Rapids police keeping busy

Park Rapids police chief Terry Eilers has been mentioned as a write-in candidate for Hubbard County Sheriff. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

The Park Rapids Police Department continues to be busy, according to a report by Chief Terry Eilers last week.

He presented a 2010 activity report to the Park Rapids City Council last week.

"Our overall call volume has decreased slightly from last year, but we see increases in other areas," Eilers said. "It's a fairly busy place for a small town."

Harassing communications is one of the new categories the state uses in reporting incidents.

"With all the electronic devices now being used there is a new way to cause problems," he said.

Examples include reports of texting, calling and e-mailing harassing messages to another person. The department reported 76 of those complaints in 2010.

The department is also seeing more shoplifting cases and an increase in people being caught. Eilers attributes better surveillance cameras at some businesses to the increase.

The rate of crimes being solved is about 70 percent, Eilers said. This is a significant increase from the 30 percent being solved when he arrived in Park Rapids.

An investigator is able to follow up on cases from patrol officers, which has helped with the case solve rate, he said.

"I can't tell you what crimes we've stopped but because officers are out there, being visible" it helps, Eilers said.

The department is receiving more reports of scams, especially from senior citizens who are being targeted.

"It's hard to track some of these scams; the last one was out of the West Indies," he said.

The police department's K-9, Pax, retired at the end of the year. The department is in the process of raising funds to purchase a new dog for the program.

This time, Eilers said, he would like to have a drug dog. Pax was a patrol and tracking dog.

"A drug dog will likely be cheaper and have a longer time in the field," he said.

The department still has a federal COPS grant, which helps pay for a patrol officer. This has helped the department save money while keeping a full staff, Eilers said.

He has worked out the overall cost to run the department 24 hours a day and came up with $40 per hour.

"I think that's pretty good," he said. "The State Patrol costs about $80 per hour."

Eilers said he will continue to work on cutting down on overtime by using part time officers.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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