Violent offender apprehension unit starts up in Mille Lacs County

Five months after the North Central Drug Task Force that Mille Lacs County was part of dissolved, the county has started up a violent offender apprehension unit in its place.
The drug task force included the counties of Mille Lacs, Aitkin and Kanabec, with Princeton Police Department being part of it for a short time after the drug task force formed in 2004. The new apprehension unit is only for Mille Lacs County.
Board OKs the new unit
The Mille Lacs County Board approved county Sheriff Brent Lindgren’s request on Feb. 4 to organize the unit, authorizing him to do two things.
One is to hire a specialized deputy with narcotics, gang, drug and violent crimes investigation background. The deputy is also to have experience in diverse communities. The other is to use $50,000 of the sheriff’s forfeiture funds to offset the deputy’s initial 2014 salary, beginning in April.
When the drug task force disbanded, the three counties that were in it split up the task force’s accumulated funds, and Mille Lacs’ portion was $56,011. That has been sitting in the sheriff’s forfeiture fund.
Lindgren said that after dedicating $50,000 of the forfeiture money to hire the new specialized deputy, he plans to use the remaining $6,011 to fund undercover-agent transactions and support operations in investigating violent crimes.
All this meets the sheriff department’s public safety and crime prevention goals, according to Lindgren. The goals are to decrease drug use and gang activity, increase safety for citizens, provide ongoing support for the prevention of juvenile crimes, and support the interoperability of all public safety organizations in the county, Lindgren said.
The unit’s makeup
The new unit will have two general investigators, one each in the north and south ends of county; a financial crimes deputy; a narcotics deputy; gang identification and prevention deputy; auto theft deputy; criminal sexual conduct, child abuse, and person-type crimes deputy; warrant and civil process deputy; one deputy with K-9 partner; one correctional officer to keep track of inmate intel; and one secretary.
There will also be a school resource officer providing instruction in the DARE, GREAT and Hooked on Fishing programs.
A 33-member sheriff’s advisory group is also being set up to give advice to the task force. It will include an official from each of 17 townships, an official from each of eight cities, and one from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the county’s police chiefs, and two county commissioners.