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NYM answers lingering questions about ticketing

The city of New York Mills and its police force are continuing to address concerns of unfair ticketing in town.

Claiming that officers were giving out a high number of traffic tickets for very minor offenses, residents took their complaints to the city council in July, requesting a review of the department.

At the most recent city council meeting, held last week, they asked for an update, and the Police Committee was on hand to answer any remaining questions.

Local business owner Dolly Tumberg spoke briefly, saying she was happy with the direction the council was going in, but was concerned that New York Mills seems to have more tickets per capita than other surrounding communities.

“Are we more law-breaking?” she asked.

Dennis Swenson also spoke, saying he believes the police force has been “way over-staffed.”

The Police Committee is looking into the number of officer hours worked. Members at the meeting pointed out that, while there are more part-time officers in New York Mills than in some nearby departments, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are working more hours.

Swenson also asked why officers are sometimes out on Highway 10, which is the Minnesota State Patrol’s territory. Police Chief Jim Van Schaik responded by saying that New York Mills officers are often called to assist other law enforcement.

Members of the Police Committee indicated that they were devising ways to improve communication between the police force and the general public, such as by having a more comprehensive police report published in local newspapers. This way, they said, readers could see the requests made by citizens, or “calls for service,” which are often the reason that police officers are dispatched to a given location.

Resident Tom Seaworth commended the police for their efforts and thanked them for putting their lives on the line. In response to earlier comments made about police actions driving customers away from town, he said he had recently surveyed his customers and found that 63 out of 102 of them were from out of town.

“I don’t think people won’t come to the community just because they can’t break the law,” he said.

In other business, the city council:

-Appointed Blaine Novak to the Economic Development Authority seat vacated by Todd Cameron.

-Appointed three new volunteer firefighters to the New York Mills Fire Department.

-Directed City Attorney Dennis Happel to move forward with a letter requiring the owners of ‘nuisance properties’ to clean them up.

Lina Belar, For the Focus