HARTINGTON — Police protection was the main topic at Monday’s Hartington City Council meeting.
The Cedar County Sheriff’s Office has been assisting with law enforcement while the City Council has been dealing with the loss of the city’s two police officers.
The police chief was terminated at the end of April and now the second city police officer who had been in training has accepted another position with the city.
Councilman Tim Burbach has met with County Sheriff Larry Koranda concerning a contract for the Sheriff’s Office to handle all city law enforcement.
Burbach had also contacted City Attorney Steven Pier for legal advice.
“I asked if there was a law that says a city of this size must have its own police force,” Burbach said. “I am waiting for his answer.”
Burbach had also checked into the benefits and disadvantages of hiring a private security company to provide law enforcement for the city.
He found out a security company can patrol the area although a local law enforcement officer would still have to be available.
Burbach offered two choices to board members: hiring a police officer who would work for the city or entering a contract with the Sheriff’s Office for all law enforcement.
“We need to start advertising for a police officer or we need to get serious about the proposal with the Sheriff’s Office. We don’t have a lot of time,” Burbach said. “I would like to pursue the proposal with the Sheriff’s Office although there would have to be some negotiations first.”
Burbach would like to see an agreement worked out between the county and the city for law enforcement.
According to Burbach, the contract with the Sheriff’s Office would call for the county to employ two additional deputies.
City Council members would have no say in who the county would hire to provide law enforcement for the city.
“I don’t particularly care to be in this business any more. We have had a bumpy ride with the police department for the last six to eight years,” Burbach said.
Former Mayor Bill Yates, who was a guest at the City Council meeting, expressed his opinion on law enforcement for the City.
“I think it would be to the city’s advantage to have its own police officers. We are a first class city — we need to stay a first class city,” Yates said. “Sure you have had some problems but we have also had some good officers.”
Board members are waiting for legal advice from the city attorney before taking further action.
The Sheriff’s Dept. will continue to assist with law enforcement for the city.
In other action, Board members discussed the violations that are occurring within the city limits with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
Burbach said he had received several complaints on ATVs that are being driven illegally within the city limits.
“The City ordinance reads the same as the Nebraska Statute concerning ATVs,” Burbach said. “Kids that are 12 years old are not allowed to drive an ATV on city streets. Adults have to be responsible and do their part. This has been getting out of hand and it has to be addressed.”
According to the Nebraska Statute and Hartington City ordinance only a licensed driver can operate an ATV on public roads and streets. Insurance is required and a flag has to be visible on the ATV.
Any questions on the State Statute can be addressed by calling the Sheriff’s Office.
City Clerk Crystal Lenzen gave a report on the Finance Conference she attended in Kearney.
Some of the sessions covered hiring employees, termination of employees, policies on cell phones, statutes dealing with open meetings and the budget process.