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Newport votes to scrap its scrutinized police department

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The embattled police force of Newport will be abolished after a vote by council members on Thursday.

The South Washington County Bulletin reports members voted 3-2 to accept a contract that will have the Washington County Sheriff's Office handle the city's policing for at least the next two years, with Newport's police officers becoming deputies.

Council member Dan Lund told the packed City Hall meeting – at which local police officers lined the back wall: "I don't think it makes fiscal sense for a city the size of Newport to keep its own police department."

But as well as finances, a contributing factor to the decision is the disarray Newport PD has found itself in, after a memo from the Sheriff's Office last month revealed that guns, money, and evidence relating to 1,138 cases had been mishandled by the department.

Two of the department's officers have also been suspended in recent months – one after being caught having sex while on duty in the City Administrator's office – while the Star Tribune reports a third officer left after being threatened with suspension.

The city council chose to extend its contract with the Sheriff over appointing a new police chief, with Mayor Tim Geraghty said the situation would be revisited in two years' time.

"Over the next two years, this is the best move," he said, according to the newspaper.

The campaign to "Save the Newport Police Department" conceded defeat following Thursday's meeting, saying on its Facebook page that the Mayor "after years of attempts has been victorious in dismantling our police department."

The South Washington County Bulletin reports council member Tracy Rahm, who voted against the proposal, argued it would be better to appoint a chief who could "clean up" the department's problems.

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