Sheriff requests new position to handle increasing paperwork

Staff Writer

The Morrison County Sheriff’s Department would like to hire an employee to handle its ever-growing pile of paperwork.

To cover the majority of the cost in 2018, the Department adjusted some of the numbers in its budget.

Sheriff Shawn Larsen and Office Support Supervisor Mary Swenson told the County Board Tuesday of the Department’s need for the position.

Currently, Initial Complaint Reports (ICRs), the initial calls made to the Sheriff’s Department that have to be filed, have increased from 8,000 a year to 10,000 a year, Swenson said.

“The call load has gone way up,” Swenson said.

In addition, issues have become more complex to handle, as people call for issues like property disputes, animal control and child custody matters, Swenson said.

Once those files are complete, with the written report, pictures and other supplementary materials, the person making the complaint wants a copy of the file for their purposes, something that isn’t a simple procedure Swenson said.

“We have to really look at our data practices and make sure we’re adhering to that so we’re not setting ourselves up for any liability,” Swenson said.

These practices are complex and being routinely updated by the state, Swenson said.

Commissioner Jeffrey Jelinski asked if the Department could get by with a part-time employee.

Swenson said the Department is very behind in reporting to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), and the 2016 annual report hasn’t been completed yet because she is handling all of the ICR filing.

“There are things that are just not getting done because we don’t have the staff to accomplish that,” Swenson said.

Commissioner Randy Winscher asked if a temporary employee or two could help the Department get caught up.

Swenson said that not only does someone have to be BCA certified to work in the office, training them for the job can take between 12 and 18 months.

County Administrator Deb Gruber said for a while now Swenson has been doing day-to-day triage tasks, rather than the higher level tasks she was hired for.

Larsen said because Swenson is so busy, he performs tasks other sheriffs don’t, such as writing his own press releases and updating the Department’s social media page. Swenson would do that if he asked, Larsen said, but then he’d be throwing more work on her.

Statistics are in constant demand from the public, Larsen said, and the Department is 1 1/2 years behind.

Larsen showed the Board adjustments he’d made to the Department’s 2018 budget to cover the cost to hire another employee.

  • Adjusting state aid from $151,500 to $153,000 due to more personnel;
  • Lowering the fuel budget from $110,000 to $100,000. The Department’s fuel costs have never exceeded $100,000, Larsen said.
  • Decreasing the budgeted amount for purchasing a new squad car from $245,000 to $235,000 as not all equipment on a retired squad car needs to be replaced; and
  • Expecting the Department could acquire an extra $25,000 by boarding more inmates at the jail from other counties. Larsen said the Department has been aggressive about doing this.

This comes to $46,500 in funding for the $54,935 position, Larsen said.

The Board agreed to vote on the matter at Tuesday’s meeting.