Princeton council gets first look at drug task force contract

Princeton – Included in the Princeton City Council packet for the March 9 meeting was a standard contract from Sherburne County regarding Princeton’s potential, pending participation in the Sherburne County Drug Task Force. City Administrator Mark Karnowski explained that the contract was a basic, boilerplate document that would be the starting point for a final contract, which he said would not be up for the council’s approval until the fall.
If the contract is presented and approved later this year, it would allow enough time to get things set up for the task force to begin Princeton operations in 2018. He said by then, the city will have ironed out the contract and gone through the budgeting process to see how it could fund the additional task-force officer.
Sgt. Luke McClain and Capt. Scott Fildes of the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office visited the Feb. 2 meeting to give the City Council information about the task force. They said it would cost in the neighborhood of $110,000 to fund the officer and squad car.
The 15-year-old task force includes three Sherburne County officers and one from Elk River. The possibility of Princeton joining the task force has been discussed in the past. Karnowski said Princeton would ask Elk River to share its task force officer’s job description and then use it to develop one for Princeton.
The task force exists to focus on drug-related crimes. That focus includes not only combating the existence and persistence of drugs in the county but also the crimes and loss of human life associated with them. McClain had told the councilors that drug addicts will steal to fund their habits, and they tend to commit crimes against people when they are high on drugs.
Princeton Police Chief Todd Frederick had said that drug investigations and arrests are increasing in Princeton. For example, drug search warrants increased from six in 2015 to 16 last year. In the same time period the number of controlled-substances arrests increased by 13.
The Sherburne County Drug Task Force collaborates with other officers to determine what cases to investigate, as well as taking tips from hotlines and referrals from county departments. Many cases relate to methamphetamine, the most commonly used drug in Sherburne County, as well as heroin, cocaine and marijuana.