Council votes to disband Forest Lake Police Department

The Forest Lake City Council voted 3-2 to contract policing services from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, despite outspoken opposition from the city's residents.

The move will disband the Forest Lake Police Department.

The city says the move will save them more than $350,000 a year and increase police service from its current 25 positions to 27.

"The savings is definitely not worth the loss," said Councilwoman Mara Bain, who voted against the contract.

The council members were split 2 to 2 and Mayor Winnick acted as the tie breaker, voting in favor of the contract.

Hundreds of residents packed City Hall for the vote on Monday night. At multiple meetings, people have given hours worth of public comment, voicing their support to keep their local officers. Forest Lake residents responded to the decision with boos, tears, and devastation.

"It’s our children it’s our future, it’s our community, this is our identity, this is our local control," said Jon Vette, a Forest Lake resident. "There are countless reasons to keep the police forest lake police department, very minimal reasons to disband them."

According to the proposal, the sheriff's office would dedicate one commander, three sergeants, 15.5 patrol deputies, three investigators, three school resource officers, and one office support to the City of Forest Lake.

The total adjusted annual cost would be about $2,897,714.52. The office also predicts there would be one-time implementation costs of $87,577.50. The full proposal can be found here.

In order to finalize the disbanding of the department and the contract with the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the contract has to be approved by the Board of Commissioners.