Council OKs police chief’s policy changes

Chief of Police Timothy Dwyer presented changes for the Police Department’s ride-along and vehicle idling policies to the Cambridge City Council on July 1.

The ride-along policy defines the eligibility and approval process for citizens and city employees who desire to experience the operations of local law enforcement firsthand.

The council moved to approve the changes on what constitutes the appropriate use of department-owned vehicles to transport passengers who wish to gain a ride-along experience that exposes them to what local law enforcement does.

The policy limits rider experiences to no more than one every six months with the discretionary approval of the chief of police or designated sergeant.

Citizens interested in a ride-along must fill out an application stating the reason and purpose for their request, complete an indemnity form, be at least 18 years of age and in good community standing, pass a background check and gain approval from the department.

Dwyer also introduced an idling policy, identifying when and why squad cars should be left idling for the purposes of best serving public safety.

Squad cars are permitted to be left idling at incident scenes, when the battery is dead or in adverse weather conditions; these conditions are defined at temperatures of 10 degrees Fahrenheit or more below zero, 80 degrees or above, when it is actively snowing or in weather that causes interior icing and fogging of the windshield.

Dwyer identified the necessity of leaving squad cars idle during these times to promote vehicle readiness to respond to emergency calls, to provide shelter and comfort at incident scenes or during the handling of a call, and to prevent damage to communications and camera equipment that occurs due to extreme weather conditions. Dwyer explained the equipment is vital to department logistics and expensive to replace.

The council-approved policy guidelines help to address excessive gasoline consumption concerns and vehicle wear, as it discourages the idling of squad cars while officers are on break or at home base.

In other action the council:

• Council members approved the purchase of a new city bus at the cost of $15,795 in city funds. The remaining $58,400 will be financed through federal grant money. The city will also retain the use of its current bus. Mayor Marlys Palmer said the cost is a “small cost to pay” considering how it helps the local transportation infrastructure and serves the ridership of the community; the city bus is what helped to secure the city as a proposed spot in the light rail route. The city bus would enable passengers of the light rail to enter destinations within the city without having to walk or call a cab. The city bus has been in service since the spring of 2007.

• The council also approved the repainting of three city entrance signs at Highway 95 West, Highway 65 North and Highway 65 South. Each sign will be repainted to match its original design and color with project costs not to exceed $2,523. The cost is covered as part of the capital improvement projects budget. The council agreed to contract for services with Crosstown Sign Inc., of Minneapolis. The project is set for completion by Aug. 15. In trying to preserve the wooden signs, repainting would be assessed again in another three years.

• The council accepted the resignation of Lucas Milz as training captain from the Cambridge Fire Department. Milz will still serve as a part of the Fire Department. The board moved to approve the recommendation of Dave Matchinsky and Jim Lentz as training captain and training lieutenant.

• City Administrator Lynda Woulfe presented council with a change to city personnel policy. The Minnesota Legislature expanded use of sick leave that requires the city to adopt the new use effective Aug. 1. The policy expands the use of sick leave to include leaves for illnesses inflicting city personnel and their adult children, step parents and grandparents.

• Jeff Good of the Minnesota Patriot Ride Planning Committee thanked the city of Cambridge for its cooperation and patriotic support that helped to make the June 15 ride a success. Approximately 2,500 motorcycles participated in this year’s event. More than $100,000 was raised to support Minnesota veterans and their families. Half of the proceeds are donated to the Minnesota Patriot Guard and the other half to the Minnesota Military Appreciation Fund.

• The city granted a tobacco license to William Joseph Carroll of E-Cig Healthy Living. Tobacco licenses are required for electronic cigarettes because they are a tobacco-related product.