By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

New K-9 for sheriff's office


The Carlton County Sheriff’s Office will be obtaining a dog, reported Sheriff Kelly Lake to the Carlton County TRIAD group at the meeting on Wednesday, January 7.

“A man from Buffalo has asked us what kind of expectations our department has for a dog, and then he went to Slovakia and chose a dog for us,” said Sheriff Lake. “This dog will have a dual purpose — for narcotics detection, and tracking and criminal apprehension.”

The position to find a handler within the sheriff’s department has been posted, Sheriff Lake added.

Once a handler has been selected, the dog and handler become a team and train together.

“The dog and handler will go through training in February for the narcotics portion,” said Sheriff Lake.

The cost of obtaining the dog was funded by donations.

“We had outstanding business support,” said Sheriff Lake. “The cost to get a dog is $10,000 to $11,000 alone, plus there are expenses connected with training and equipment, vet bills and food. We received a huge donation from the Northwoods Credit Union for $10,000. The ongoing expenses of the program are supported by forfeitures.”

Sheriff Lake explained the sheriff’s office had a dog in the past but it was retired in 2011. The deputies have brought in a dog from the Fond du Lac Reservation or the Cloquet Police Department when needed.

“It will be nice to have another dog,” Sheriff Lake added. “We were fortunate to have dogs available on mutual aid.”

Restorative Justice

The Restorative Justice program has been very effective in helping teens to stay out of trouble.

“Juveniles are recommended to enter the program through the county attorney’s office,” explained Sheriff Lake. “It is a diversionary program. The juvenile won’t get a criminal record if he or she enters the program.

“A lot of the time, these are not evil kids. They are just kids that made a stupid mistake.”

The Restorative Justice program consists of circles made up of community volunteers and the victim of the crime. The concept of the program is to repair the harm.

“Victims like and appreciate being involved in the program,” said Sheriff Lake. “It gives them a voice. Often the kids have to do chores for the victim to make up for their crime.”

Sheriff Lake said there are 25 to 30 juveniles in the program, with eight to 10 circles meeting at the same time.

“The circle is essentially their probation officer,” she explained. “They all hold the juvenile accountable. The parents have to be involved. It’s not an easy process.”

The program started in the prison system and is showing success.

“Statewide, we are seeing less kids coming into the justice system, and there are less kids coming back,” said Sheriff Lake.

She said she would contact Paul Mickelson, the person in charge of the program, and ask him to speak at one of the TRIAD meetings. She also said more volunteers are needed for the program.

Jail design

Sheriff Lake reported she, Carlton County Commissioner Marv Bode and County Coordinator Dennis Genereau will be attending an institution (jail) design course in Denver. Their attendance will be paid for by the National Institute of Corrections.

The institute will also send a team to the Carlton County jail and do a technical assessment of the criminal justice system when plans are developed for a new jail.

“Our jail was built in 1979,” she said. “We need maximum security, and our needs have outgrown the space. We are required to provide certain types of programming for the offenders, such as religious and Alcoholics Anonymous. Volunteers are brought in to conduct the programs.

“Hopefully this course will give us a good start for designing a jail to meet the needs in the future so we can be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.”

Alternatives to jail

Sheriff Lake said there is a committee that is examining alternatives to jail but there are offenders who still need to serve time in jail. The Drug Court is one alternative that was started last summer.

“The Drug Court is working,” said Sheriff Lake. “We have clients in the system, and they are well monitored. But we won’t know when we will start to see the results.”

“The Drug Court is a benefit to the offenders. It keeps them out of prison. Hopefully, they will stay clean. We don’t want to see them back.”

Death investigations

Sheriff Lake spoke about the change in death investigations now that the county coroner, Dr. Pummula, has retired.

“This is the first time in 40 years that we don’t have a coroner,” she said. “Dr. Thomas Uncini of Lakeland Pathology is now the medical examiner for Carlton County as well as St. Louis County. He has trained death investigators that will respond and investigate the body part of it. They are not doctors but have some medical background. They are trained and consult with the medical examiner. Law enforcement also has to respond.”

The next meeting of Carlton County TRIAD was set for Wednesday, February 4, 10 a.m. at the Carlton County Transportation Building.


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