Fergus Falls Police Department to Add Additional Officer

They say the increasing number of calls are for mental health cases

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — The Fergus Falls City Council approved their police department’s request to add another officer.

Police say the crime rate in Fergus Falls is stable, but the number of calls for service has increased by 30 to 40 percent. That’s prompting the department to add more officers.

“As a lot of the resources have begun to fade away, as far as regional treatment centers, detox facilities, we’re finding our officers on a mental health call are spending usually at a minimum four hours on a mental health call, where in the past they might spend 30–45 minutes,” Kile Bergren, chief of public safety for the Fergus Falls Police Department, said.

Law enforcement partners with the Mobile Mental Health Crisis Response team if people need care from a mental health professional. They serve Clay, Otter Tail, and Wilkin counties.

“We’ve seen a very significant increase, especially over this last month. Typically we get 30–40 dispatches where we’re out meeting with clients in crisis, and last months we saw 60,” Alyssa Schultz, a crisis services supervisor, said.

Mayor Ben Schierer says fewer resources means police officers have to deal with more mental health calls.

“Police officers have no choice but to be on the front lines… it’s an incredible burden to place on them, but they’re doing a tremendous job,” he said.

Police say people are becoming more aware of mental health issues, and the trend Fergus Falls is seeing is happening across the country.

“The problems aren’t going away but the resources are going away. And that’s putting more demand on our officers’ time out on the road,” Bergren said.

People can go to the Mobile Mental Health Crisis Response team directly, but sometimes it’s easier to contact police.

“A lot of clients know the 911 number instead of all the other different numbers for resources,” Schultz said.

The department hopes to finalize the hiring of the new officer in September.

Categories: Minnesota News