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Silver Bay approves expedited hiring of part time officers

By Ken Vogel

The Silver Bay city council struggled with a vote to fast-track the hiring process for two new part- time police officers. While the city has been advertising for the part time positions, the hiring process has been slow in advancing.

According to Silver Bay’s city administrator, Lana Fralich, newly appointed interim chief Aaron Johnson conveyed the urgent need to hire two part- time officers. To date few qualified applicants have stepped up.

“We have not received applicants who would not need extensive time to train,” she said. Fralich told the council that the interim chief recommended hiring two experienced law enforcement officers, both of whom have full- time experience with the Duluth and Proctor police departments. The officers currently assist the University of Minnesota- Duluth Police Department on a part-time basis.

Fralich said the SBPD is currently understaffed, creating the possibility of coverage shortfalls.

“We now have three full- time and two part- time officers,” she told the council. “Should someone get sick or have an emergency, we just don’t have personnel to draw from.”

Fralich indicated that the proposal to hire the officers based on Johnson’s recommendation would expedite the process because the two are currently licensed peace officers, and could forgo some of the pre-screening process and field training the city would normally require of a newly hired officer.

Councilor Steve Marolt made a motion to move forward and hire the prospective candidates upon successful competition of a physical examination and criminal background check, but the motion was defeated by vote. The ensuing discussion included questions by Councilor Carlene Perfetto as to the urgency of hiring the officers.

“I would like to see the facts that we need to hire these people right away,” she said. She also expressed concern about possible liability issues related to forgoing some of the pre-screening process.

A second motion was made by Councilor Dave Gustafson to approve the hires immediately upon the successful completion of a criminal history check and physical examination. The motion passed with Perfetto opposing.

Beaver Bay Fire Department to disband

The City of Beaver Bay has received verbal notice from the Beaver Bay Volunteer Fire Department of its intent to demobilize. According to City Clerk Irv Hudyma, the non-profit organization operates independently of the city and has just three active members.

“I have received notification that the remaining members wish to disband the volunteer fire department,” Hudyma said.

Hudyma added that he will be meeting with Silver Bay City Administrator Lana Fralich and S.B.F.D. Chief Mike Rowlee to discuss options.

“The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the possibility of a contractual agreement for fire service coverage,” he said.

Currently the two cities have a mutual aid agreement. In the event that the BBFD disbands, however, that agreement will no longer apply.