by Dennis Dalman
There is a vital need for all of the towns and cities in Stearns County to have coordinated access to a regional records-management system.
That’s according to Sartell resident Dave Bentrud, who is the Waite Park police chief and a current candidate for Stearns County sheriff, competing against the other candidate, Steve Soyka. Bentrud has been in law enforcement for 26 years, 10 of them as Waite Park chief.
Bentrud told the Sartell City Council the current communications system for all the cities in the county is situated at the sheriff’s department, with functions including dispatching, patrol, informational updates and more. The system, now 20 years old, is expensive, costing about $300,000 annually; and it is not very effective or efficient – so much so, said Bentrud, that it hinders problem-solving and crime-fighting..
A new regional communications-management center could enhance networking among all entities in the county, Bentrud said, a kind of clearing house for information and instant updates. That kind of connective work, he said, is especially vital in light of the crimes related to sex trafficking and the increase of crimes and family and social problems related to mental illness issues.
Bentrud told the council whether he wins or loses the bid for the Stearns County sheriff position, he is eager and willing to work with the city of Sartell and other towns and cities in the county to start developing a regional records-management system.
Because Bentrud spoke during the open-forum guest-speaker portion of the city council meeting, council members – under open forum rules – could not at that particular meeting reply or comment on the suggestions put forth by Bentrud.