Forest Lake PD contract heads to city council for final approval

The Law Enforcement Labor Services, the union representing Minnesota police officers, approved a new contract Thursday morning for the Forest Lake Police Department.

The City of Forest Lake struck a deal with the police union on Wednesday to prevent the department from disbanding, two days after the city council had voted to have Washington County take over its policing services.

The decision followed weeks of protests from hundreds of citizens and police officers, including a walk out at Forest Lake High School on Tuesday afternoon. 

"Credit goes to the the thousands of residents of Forest Lake who have been supporting us for the past several months. They continually lift our spirits and clearly their efforts made the difference in the end," Sean Gormley, executive director of the LELS, said in a statement

In a statement issued Thursday, Mayor Ben Winnick said he still believes the Washington County sheriff’s office would have done a fine job serving the city.

“I supported Contract Law Enforcement with Washington County from the beginning, because I believe that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office would offer the citizens of Forest Lake an increased level of patrol and protection while reducing overall costs.”

The new, three-year agreement with the police department includes a two percent salary increase for officers this year and next year, maintenance of retiree benefits and outlines a process to reach long-term financial stability while communicating development progress to all stakeholders.

Winnick says the agreement required some “tough concessions” on both sides and he looks forward to the city council's discussion on it. 

The city council will review the contract for final approval on Monday.