|John Pilger is a journalist from London. Since his early years as a correspondent in the Vietnam War, Pilger has been a strong critic of the American and British foreign policy, which he considers to be driven by an imperialist agenda. |
Tonight I am at a local drinking establishment to catch up on what's going around town. Early in one conversation I heard this:
"I heard my mom say it will cost $165,000 a year to have a police department in Brooten."
I quickly corrected the record. It's more like $75-80K a year, but why let that stop a good rumor from running around town suggesting that Brooten can't afford proper police coverage. Right?
So we have the council using Atwater's PD budget of 110K. Sorry, that's completely wrong. Atwater has three officers on their staff (and a fourth who clocks in about one day a month) and a total of 60 hours a week of town coverage.
Another number I heard being thrown around on the rumor mill is 127K....sorry that's Belgrade's PD budget and before humpty-dumpty fell down they had a staff of two full-time officers. Now I hear 165K on the rumor mill. I have no idea what city that's from.
Hopefully my newspaper can get out in front of this ugly and dangerous rumor mill.
I have combed through the Belgrade police department budget countless times and can't get an estimate for an annual cost for Brooten of more than $72,061!
Do the math. At the end of Officer Bjork's tenure with the Belgrade police department his salary was $19 an hour. If he was given an offer of $18 an hour, would he take it? Yeah, he would. Do the math. On a 2,080-hour contract that's $37,440. Add parts of the following to the budget, but factor in the fact that a line item such as "$1,000 for uniforms" would not be that high for a one-person department in Brooten:
Belgrade's 2015 police department budget:
$81,308 for salaries
$1,179 for FICA
$6,420 for employee insurance
$1,000 for uniforms
$2,000 for equipment
$1,200 for training and dues
$1,300 for telephone
$1,500 for supplies
$1,700 for computer-car
$2,000 for repair/maintenance (my guess is squad car)
$6,500 for motor fuel
$3,000 for a Stearns County legal contract
$4,000 for "legal fees"
$11,966 for retirement/PERA
$300 for miscellaneous
$2,000 for capital outlay (this part of the budget is meant for budgeting for squad car replacement...in 2013 that figure in Belgrade was $35,177 when they upgraded to the Chevy Tahoe)
For 2015, the city of Brooten is contracted to pay Belgrade approximately $40,560 at $39 an hour for 20 hours a week of police coverage. The B-B-E school district, from a health and safety levy that is assessed to every district taxpayer from Lake Gilchrist to the Lake Henry area to Elrosa to Padua to Sedan and everything inbetween, pays another sum of money to subsidize the Belgrade PD budget. News flash: I pay into that levy, so you can bet the farm that I will make noise if I am unhappy with how that money is being spent. Because of a bad case of "Dereliction of duty" I have not retrieved that dollar amount in recent weeks.
My guess is that it is between $15,000 and $20,000 a year. Rest assured, the moment I find out what was paid on that school police liaison contract during the 2013-2014 school year, it will be posted here. **UPDATE: I was way off in my estimation. I definitely want to learn more about that. During the 2013-2014 school year, from what I read in October 2014 school board minutes in the Bonanza Valley Voice, the B-B-E school district spent only $3,200 on that contract. (The school had budgeted $6,000 for that contract.)
$15K as the figure for the school/police payment. That would mean over $55,000 of Belgrade's police department budget is paid by "OPM" a phrase you should Google. So we're looking at $43K to $45K or so of the Belgrade police department paid for by OPM.
Please refer to another update posted on Sunday:
This will get straightened out next week. If anyone believes they can pull the wool over my eyes, they're sadly mistaken. I was built for this. I can find my way around a school or city budget as well as anyone. If I have to pull back the curtain to see whether or not the emperor has any clothes you can bet I will do just that.
B-B-E schools had an excellent anti-bullying
program going under Officer Bjork that I was very proud of along with every
other parent in the district. That is no more. The thing about bullying
is, those evil seeds are planted at a young age. We all know that
children need a good "gardener" to tend to them (parents, teachers,
clergy...and yes, cops) in order to lead them on the right path and to
help raise them into good people who help others and not hurt them.
Well we had that and it got chewed up and spit out by pure, unadulterated small town arrogance. When kids heard Officer Bjork talk about how wrong it is to
bully others, THEY LISTENED. Did it stop all bullying? Of course not,
just like when you weed your garden...it doesn't keep future weeds from
growing. But it helps. Any gardener or farmer knows that weeds are constant in life. You keep fighting and fighting and fighting in order to get your crops to grow.
Officer Bjork taught us one lesson when he resigned: sometimes you have to let the bully win. It's a difficult pill to swallow. It takes a wise person to know when to fight and when to retreat.
Because the Belgrade police department has
been severely understaffed since December 1, I have seen no game
coverage by the terms of the school police liaison between
the Belgrade PD and the school district. No anti-bullying program
going in the classroom with Office Bjork leading it.
I'm finally putting the whole picture together. I am ashamed in myself that it's taken me two months to do this.
We're not in a good situation. The school is missing a very important piece: a full-fledged school police liaison that was in place until last November. Ask yourself: is having a police officer who every student in the two school buildings respects and listens to important? Is it important to have someone like that leading anti-bullying forums at both schools?
See what one parent said last November that echoed what every other parent I have talked to since then:
children know him from school and are not scared to speak with him.
They know that if anything was wrong they could go to him."
Here's what a father said just last week: "(child's name) has come home from school all excited because Officer Derrick was at school today and talked about bullying. I think these guys are role models that have the respect and appreciation that can't be replaced by just anybody. Let's not let our kids down."
My two cents: we are letting our kids down. Shame on us. It's time we fight back.
Labels: belgrade minnesota, Belgrade MN, belgrade police department, belgrade-brooten-elrosa school, law enforcement