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Though a part-time department, Minatare Police focus on ‘community policing’

February 5, 2019

MINATARE — Since the Minatare City Council implemented a part-time police department last October, the public has been overwhelmingly satisfied with the coverage the town is receiving, leaders say.

To help the department stay current with their technology needs, international chemical manufacturer SNF North America presented the police department a $2,425 check to purchase new radio equipment.

“We’re getting five spare batteries and a new portable radio to make calls,” said Patrol Officer Jed Combs. “It’s not cheap to purchase new technology in any industry. We’re just trying to stay current with what law enforcement is using today.”

Lt. Bryan Martinez, who heads up the department, called their coverage part-time/full-time.

“We have six officers and try to have someone on duty every day, either day shift or night shift, so everyone works part time,” he said. “We’re fully staffed and all the officers have already been certified by the state. We’re putting out quality service to the community.”

Combs said the new part-time schedule gives the opportunity for more community policing.

“We’ll stop by the school just to go in and say ‘hi’ and interact with the kids,” he said. “A lot of it is also waving to people when we’re driving by.”

Martinez said he also likes the department to be more community oriented.

“I’ll stop by the park to play ball or join the high school phys-ed class for a game of volleyball,” Martinez said. “During football season, I try to make it to all the games so the kids know us and can talk with us. We’re trying to change the culture of law enforcement that many people have.”

Minatare City Council member Lynn Wright said that having part-time officers staff the department has worked out better than the previous department of two full-time officers.

“With only two officers, there was a lot of dead time when they were just on call,” Wright said. “Now, we have more officers that are out in the field more often. This system also helps with our budget.”

Presenting the check Monday morning was Douglas Yost, SNF senior technical sales representative for ag. Many of the ag chemicals the company makes are branded for other companies like Simplot.

“We have a distribution hub here and the company is big on supporting local communities,” Yost said. “Nothing’s ruled out with this company, so we’ll be doing some future projects with Minatare.”

Minatare Mayor Bob Baldwin also said he thinks the part-time department is working well and could be improved even more by getting the entire community involved. He continues to encourage residents to get involved in the neighborhood watch program and report any suspicious activity.

“I’ll usually go out a couple of nights a week and just drive around,” Baldwin said. “I just look around and see if people are walking down the streets and the lights or if they’re dressed in black and walking down an alley.”

He added that if any street lights are out, they get reported to Nebraska Public Power District and are replaced promptly.

“NPPD is also installing all new lights in the city,” Baldwin said. “That project should be completed this year and will give us even better lighting.”

Baldwin said street paving continues to be a challenge for Minatare and Yost has agreed to discuss some possible options with city officials.

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