Falcon Heights makes it official with Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office

With a vote that was months in the making, the Falcon Heights City Council approved a policing contract with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Oct. 25.

The 3-0 vote — council member Pamela Harris wasn’t present and council member Randy Gustafson, who works for the sheriff’s office, abstained — was made with little fanfare.

The St. Anthony Police Department will police Falcon Heights through the end of the year, with the last day of the cities’ 22-year relationship being Dec. 31. 

Ramsey County will take up patrol Jan. 1, 2018.

The split between St. Anthony and Falcon Heights is a direct result of the police killing of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights on July 6, 2016. He was shot during a routine traffic stop by a St. Anthony cop on Larpenteur Avenue. The officer was acquitted of any wrongdoing.

In March of this year, the St. Anthony City Council passed a resolution seeking to make Falcon Heights liable for any police actions within its city limits, effectively signaling the end of the police contract, which St. Anthony officially terminated July 11.

As explained by Falcon Heights City Administrator Sack Thongvanh at the Oct. 25 meeting, he sent out 10 letters of interest to area law enforcement agencies. Ramsey County was the only agency to respond affirmatively.

Thongvanh explained the sheriff’s office fast-tracked its pickup time for Falcon Heights, allowing for no lull or hiccups in service. 

When the clock strikes midnight and the calendar flips to 2018, the same level of service from Ramsey County as offered by St. Anthony is expected, with one patrol car in the city at all times, along with similar response times.

Though the service will be the same, the cost for Ramsey County to police Falcon Heights will not. For 2018, Thongvanh said the city will pay the sheriff’s office just more than $1 million for service, compared to $670,000 to St. Anthony in 2017.

That means a jump in property taxes for residents. Other budget moves and potential new revenue streams to the city will be used to soften the blow. The cost of policing for 2019 is expected to increase, Thongvanh said, inching up closer to $1.1 million.

Mayor Peter Lindstrom said he thinks the contract with the sheriff’s office is “solid,” though he followed that up with mixed sentiments, mentioning discussions with other communities policed by Ramsey County.

“Much of the comments have been positive but not all of them,” Lindstrom said, pausing. “So I think this is a good step for our community.”

He said the city would be watching the sheriff’s office closely, and pushing for it to take up the recommendations made by the city’s Inclusion and Policing Task Force.

Falcon Heights joined the sheriff’s office’s contract communities group, which as of 2018 will include Arden Hills, Little Canada, North Oaks, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights and White Bear Township.

Gustafson said the sheriff’s office is currently looking into police body cameras, though he said he didn’t know what the timeline was for possible implementation.

Thongvanh said the city is planning two open houses where residents can meet with deputies from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, though the details about those events have yet to be finalized.

He said they will very likely be at City Hall and the Falcon Heights Town Square apartments in November and December.


Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813.


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