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LaPaz â€” LaPaz has been without their own law enforcement since January. Although the town has pursued finding a part-time officer, LaPaz council member Roger Ecker reported to the county commissioners Monday that all of the applicants were unworthy of the position.
As a result, Ecker petitioned the commissioners to allow the Marshall County Sheriffâ€™s Department to provide protection to the LaPaz area. Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin was also present at the meeting, and expressed concern about safety in the LaPaz area as students return to school this week. Chamberlin specifically noted that in the past, bus delivery to Lakeville schools was patrolled by the LaPaz town marshal.
Ecker said that with no part-time officer on staff and a police car with more than 100,000 miles on it, the LaPaz Police Department could not continue to exist.
â€śWe see no way possible that we will be able to maintain our own police force,â€ť said Ecker.
Chamberlin recommended to the commissioners that they approve a memorandum of understanding between the town of LaPaz and the Marshall County Sheriffâ€™s Department stating that the Sheriffâ€™s department would provide law enforcement for the LaPaz area. LaPaz had budgeted $15,000 to pay a part-time officer, and that money will now go to the sheriffâ€™s department to cover part of their costs in patrolling the town. Chamberlin said that officers scheduled for a â€śshort week,â€ť or a week of working 32 hours, would be directed to law enforcement needs in the LaPaz area. The extra work will bring the officers up to a 40 hour workweek, but they will not be working overtime.
â€ś(LaPaz) is going to be able to save money, but continue to provide law enforcement,â€ť said Chamberlin.
Chamberlin also said that the sheriffâ€™s department would be responsible for the LaPaz area anyway, if LaPaz could not provide law enforcement of their own.
â€śI would rather be proactive than reactive,â€ť said Chamberlin.
The commissioners approved the memorandum, to continue as long as both parties remain in agreement of the arrangement.