Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Judge Beiers speaks with TRIAD and Fond du Lac elders group

 


Judge Leslie Beiers described the court system to the Carlton County TRIAD members and the Fond du Lac Elder Concerns Group at the Fond du Lac Tribal Center on Wednesday, May 6.

Beiers had been appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton as judge to the Sixth Judicial District last summer, where she serves in the Carlton County Court System, she explained to the people in attendance. The Sixth Judicial District consists of the counties of Cook, Lake, Carlton and St. Louis.

“Minnesota courts have always been ranked at the top in courts in the country,” Judge Beiers said. “I am one of 289 judges in the state, and one of two in Carlton County.”

She went on to explain the district courts handle cases including speeding, DWI, murder, divorce, civil suits, civil commitments, child protection and divorces, among others.

“It is not a crime to be under the influence of a controlled substance,” Judge Beiers said. “But it is a crime to drive when under the influence.”

Drug Court was added in Carlton County last fall, and is the newest Drug Court in the state.

“Drug courts are the most researched method in the criminal justice system,” said Judge Beiers. “We know that they work. We have 20 members of the adult drug court who try to help the participants. We look at what they need and provide assistance. There is immediate intervention when necessary.

“I’ve seen people have longer periods of sobriety and improve to the point where they get their kids back. I’ve seen a dramatic difference.”

People have to qualify to be referred to the Drug Court. Not everyone is accepted, Judge Beiers explained.

“We don’t want to kill a mosquito with cannon balls,” she said. “Drug Court is for people who really need its services.”

Judge Beiers said many of the people who appear in court suffer from mental health issues.

“If someone comes in and it is obvious that they are delusional, we order a mental health evaluation,” she explained. “We need to understand what’s going on.”

Sheriff Kelly Lake explained that a high number of offenders, over 60 percent, incarcerated in the Carlton County Jail suffer from mental illness. Adult services representatives from the Human Development Center come to talk to the offenders when needed. Consultations can also be conducted by teleconference on an iPad, said Sheriff Lake.

One problem is a shortage of the number of mental health treatment facilities in the state, said Sheriff Lake.

“We are tied in with the Criminal Justice Partners and the Carlton County Drug Abuse Task Force,” Sheriff Lake added. “Along with chemical dependency issues we see mental health issues.”

It was just learned that morning, Sheriff Lake said, that the Liberalis program, a chemical dependency program for women, located in Carlton, will continue to be a state-operated program. The capacity will be dropped to 16 beds, and women have to be referred to the program by the court. Participants come to the program from all over the state, she added.

Representatives of the National Institute of Corrections will be visiting the Carlton County Jail the first part of June to evaluate the jail.

“Two consultants will gather information about the jail, look at the jail population, the length of the stay of the offenders, and gather other information,” said Sheriff Lake. “Our jail was built in 1979, and is the 12th oldest jail in the state.”

She added that a public meeting will be held about the jail on June 4 at 1 p.m. at the transportation building.

Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek reported the Cloquet Police Department has been restructured. Two co-commanders divide the duties between investigations and administrative.

New officers hired include two females and one young man.

“We now have three female officers,” said Chief Stracek. “We will spread them out among the shifts in the event searches of females are required.”

Chief Stracek also explained that the department is not planning to purchase body cameras at this time.

“They are very expensive, and we would also have to buy a server,” he said. “It’s a huge logistic to keep all of the data from the cameras and to know what to release to the public. It has to be handled on a case-by-case basis. There is no funding available. I don’t see that changing for our agency.”

Eight officers are going to receive training for a bicycle patrol, starting in June, said Chief Stracek. Four bikes have been ordered and were expected to arrive the following week.

The officers will ride the bikes to patrol in the downtown area, the west end, the parks and the alleys, both day and night.

Moose Lake Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm reported that firearms have been targeted in burglaries. He advised everyone to record the make, model and serial number of each of their firearms. If the firearms are stolen, that information can be entered into a database that is available nationwide, he said.

The next meeting of the Carlton County TRIAD was set for Wednesday, June 3, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Wright, at 10 a.m.

 

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