Garrison starting its own police department

Published: Jan. 21, 2020 at 6:48 PM CST
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A North Dakota city of about 1,500 residents is starting its own police department after officials rejected a proposal to continue to contract services from the McLean County Sheriff's Office.

Travis Tesch, Garrison's new police chief will begin work Monday. He has 20 years of experience in North Dakota law enforcement.

The city of Garrison had been contracting services from the sheriff's department since 1969 but over the summer the council members rejected renewing the contract for 2020. That means the town has been virtually without law enforcement presence since Jan. 1.

Garrison officials were unhappy about increasing costs from the contract and felt that the sheriff's department was not enforcing city ordinances diligently, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

McLean County Sheriff JR Kerzmann said he was "in awe" when the Garrison City Council rejected the contract and added that he was frustrated officials didn't come forward with their concerns sooner. Kerzmann said his office tries to be reactive to ordinance violations in other cities where they have contracts.

"We weren't proactively going and seeking them, like we didn't have guys driving around town that were looking for a dog that was barking or parking that might have expired three hours over the ordinance," Kerzmann said. "To me, it's not a good use of resources."

Garrison officials decided in September to establish its own police force, but it became clear it wouldn't be operational by the start of 2020. The county was still responding to 911 calls.