Mound in talks with Orono about policing

By Blaze Fugina
Sun Contributing Editor

After negotiations fell through with Minnetrista about a joint police force, talks are now in place for a police contract in Mound with the Orono Police Department.

The Orono Police Force already covers Spring Park and Minnetonka Beach, and now officials are working to add Mound to that list.

"When we met the impasse with Minnetrista, we said we would look for other options," said Mound City Administrator Kandis Hanson. "Orono is physically the next neighboring city."

The main reason for Mound considering a change in policing options is cost. Hanson said the price Orono is offering has made a big difference over the agreement with Minnetrista.

"Orono has matched the price that we sought from Minnetrista," she said.

With Orono covering Spring Park, Hanson said that Mound and Orono police officers are familiar with each other.

"The Mound police and Orono police have been interacting under the mutual aid agreement forever," said Hanson. "Geographically it does make sense."

The distance between the Orono Police Department and Mound is roughly six miles, but Hanson said there is a possibility for police space in Mound.

"They are very excited about having a Mound precinct," she said.

Similar to the proposal for the Minnetrista agreement, Mound officers would be hired into the Orono Police Department if an agreement were reached. Hanson did not know if the agreement would include every officer currently employed by the Mound department.

"The intent is that everyone is getting a job," she said. "Right now we are doing the modeling of our departments combined."

The Mound Police Department and Orono Police Department unions have met as recently as Monday for labor talks. Both police departments have two unions each, as there is one for supervisors and one for patrol officers.

"The four unions, they all met for several hours about seniority and how the Mound officers could fit," she said. "The Mounds people came out of that meeting optimistic."

Hanson also said that Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok has been helpful in agreement talks by having a business approach. She compared his efforts to those of Mound Fire Chief Greg Pederson, who has worked with the Mound City Council on numerous occasions.

"What we like about Chief Farniok is there’s a business approach," she said. "That’s cool to see a business head."

A preliminary agreement for Mound and the Orono Police Department could be reached by early fall, as Hanson said both cities would like to report budget changes by their September budget period. The budget period for both cities is required to be completed before Sept. 15.