The Alexandria Police Department remains committed to battling illegal narcotics in our community. As a result of this commitment, our agency has partnered with several other agencies in our geographical area to form the West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

The multi-jurisdictional task force covers Douglas, Pope, Grant, Otter Tail, Becker and Wadena counties as well as the municipalities, including Alexandria, located within those counties. These partnerships, with a few changes over the years, have been in place for more than 15 years.

The task force is currently comprised of eight full-time agents with an additional agent to be committed in the fourth quarter of 2019 or January 1, 2020 by the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office. This additional agent will move the task force to nine full-time agents including the commander. The task force is funded by a grant from the State of Minnesota.

The task force is supervised by an advisory board comprised of sheriffs and chiefs from member agencies as well as the Douglas County attorney, who acts as the legal advisor for the board and task force. The advisory board meets on a quarterly basis with the task force commander presenting task force financial standing, case results, drug trends and any operational concerns to the board.

As the name of the task force implies, they are not only working to combat drugs in our region. They are also a great asset when it comes to investigating violent crimes. We in law enforcement often see the connection between drug use and violent crimes and so it is a natural fit to have both of these types of crimes investigated by the same individuals.

Officers assigned to the task force work together as a single enforcement entity to enhance coordination, communication and exchange intelligence to facilitate investigative activities. This allows the task force to work toward the prevention of drug and criminal activity. By working with patrol staff, probation and parole agents, prosecutors and the community, we are able to gain valuable information about criminal activity and those individuals perpetrating that activity.

The task force also participates in community outreach activities. In 2018 and to date in 2019, the task force has conducted 25 presentations to 1,290 attendees. These presentations cover narcotics, new trends in narcotics, the violent crimes that often accompany narcotics and the overall impact this has on the community. These presentations have been made to probation agents, professional organizations, local businesses and students at local schools. Agents assigned to the task force also work with youth mentor programs, youth groups and community outreach groups.

Our continued participation in the West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crime Task Force is something that I believe strongly in. Our agency is committed to seeking out criminal behavior in all forms in order to provide a safer, more pleasant community for the citizens in our region of the state.

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Rick Wyffels is the Alexandria police chief. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.