Super Bowl police?
May 14, 2017


Police business had the spotlight at Tuesday's Winnebago City Council meeting, when everything from Super Bowl LII protection to squad-car computer upgrades prompted discussion and support from the city's elected officials.

On the night that council members voted to grant Eric Olson, Winnebago Public Safety Department's police chief, a two-step wage increase effective on his anniversary date, Olson was not shy about sharing opportunities for expanded outreach.

First and foremost came a recommendation to approve a software upgrade for Winnebago's Computer Information Systems (CIS), used mostly at the Municipal Center by officers to write police reports or conduct investigative work.

"CIS has developed report writing on our laptops with a few other features that make working in the field easier," Olson said. "An officer can now write a report from the squad computer, and it will go into the main computer in the office."

In other words, officers would no longer be required to leave their post and return to City Hall to finalize reports. And multiple officers would be able to complete such work at the same time.

"Our Mankato consortium will have training on this in June," Olson said. "I am very excited for this, as it will eventually replace the office computer."

Upgrading the CIS software for two laptops, the police chief added, costs $2,760, which includes a one-time, $360 maintenance and support fee.

"We kind of have two options," Olson said. "Either we can do it now or, down the road, everyone's going to do it and we're going to have to."

A unanimous vote from the City Council granted the request by Olson, who added that the computer upgrades should aid a lot more than report writing.

"It's good for the community, too," he said. "Now you don't have to pull officers back to the office; they can keep watching town and write the reports from their squad cars."

And that is exactly what the council members said they would prefer allowing the officers to stay in town.

Councilmen Rick Johnson and Paul Eisenmenger both complimented the Public Safety Department during Tuesday's meeting, recalling recent observations of officers proactively engaging with adults and even playing with kids around the community.

One of those officers, Chase Davis, received added praise from both Olson and the council, which approved the removal of Davis from a probationary period after a year of service in Winnebago.

"He had over 300 traffic stops last year," Olson said. "And there was not a single complaint. That's outstanding."

It is one of the reasons Olson also presented the Winnebago City Council with a plan to offer both Davis and fellow full-time officer Emily Bonin a chance to partner with the Minneapolis Police Department for oversight of U.S. Bank Stadium and the surrounding areas during Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018.

Minneapolis, Olson explained, is looking for law enforcement assistance across the state in advance of the historic Super Sunday festivities. And with lodging, liability coverage and 10-day wages provided by Minneapolis, the police chief said the opportunity would not only be feasible but also a "once-in-a-career" venture for Bonin and Davis.

"A Joint Powers Agreement with all agencies would have to be created," Olson said. "St. Paul PD did this for the Republican National Convention."

With a June 30 deadline to inform Minneapolis of Winnebago Public Safety's intentions, Olson got another wave of unanimous support from the council, albeit with some playful remarks.

Councilman Scott Robertson, for instance, asked whether or not the officers might be concerned about missing a potential Minnesota Vikings appearance in the Super Bowl if they are busy policing the area.

"The odds of them getting into the stadium are actually pretty low," Olson replied, "just because of how many people they'll have."

Even that might not be a problem, though.

"And the odds of the Vikings getting to the Super Bowl are probably even lower than that," Robertson joked.

At Tuesday's meeting, the Winnebago City Council also:

Approved a $37,342.76 bid for crack sealing of the Municipal Center parking lot and the application of a surface product on other asphalt areas.

"Jim Johnson from Bargen, Inc. was present at the Utility Committee to propose some maintenance for recent overlay projects," Winnebago city administrator Chris Ziegler said. "He is recommending applying RePlay to the alley behind the post office and Second Avenue SW RePlay bonds with the asphalt and penetrates the surface to seal in the oils and is expected to add eight to 10 years of life to the street."

Reviewed a draft of a new housing-lot incentive program, written by city attorney David Frundt and spawned by previous council discussions on a potential rebate system for development on city lots.


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