City of Belfield discusses law enforcement funding, garbage collection
Councilman suggests temporary changes to garbage collection due to snowy alleys, Canine program credited for potentially saving a deputy's life in South Heart home invasion case
BELFIELD, N.D. — Several issues were discussed during a regularly scheduled meeting of the Belfield City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 10. They included funding for law enforcement, and garbage collection.
Stark County Sheriff’s Lt. Eldon Mehrer said his department received 70 calls for service to Belfield in the month of December. This included seven criminal investigations. Among them were two alleged domestic violence incidents, one drug offense, one theft case and a burglary. He explained that deputies have been placing orange warning stickers on vehicles in violation of street ordinances in order to allow public works to do snow removal as easily as possible.
Deputies spent 307 total December hours on duty in western Stark County, with 148 of them in Belfield. Mehrer said the latter figure is slightly lower than what he’d like it to be, but pointed to extreme winter weather and staff taking holiday vacation time as factors. Sheriff Corey Lee said he’s noticed errors in the time reporting, such as School Resource Officer Holly Bloodsaw only being counted for one hour when she worked much longer than that.
Lee emphasized the importance of the canine program, and pointed to a recent South Heart home invasion as an example. The canine handler in that incident was Deputy Steve Byrne, former Belfield police chief.
“I harp on these canines being a crucial part of what we do. It’s hard for me to explain that to you guys. I was a handler for 15 years,” Lee said. “To make a long story short, dog got in between the bad guy and the shotgun on the bed. It potentially saved one deputy’s life, if not more… It’s a perfect case scenario of why these tools as I call them, because they are tools, are so important to us.”
Stark County has three canines it uses for sniffing out narcotics and apprehending dangerous criminals, as well as one emotional support dog it uses for community outreach. Sheriff’s department canine programs in the area are primarily funded by donations. Bowman and Hettinger Counties both recently launched canine programs of their own.
Mayor Jeff Iverson pointed out to Lee that the South Heart and Richardton pay substantially less to the Stark County Sheriff’s Department than his city. Lee explained that’s because the City of Belfield requested a greater level of service from the department, such as a regimented amount of patrol time and more active enforcement of ordinances. These arrangements were made in the summer of 2021 when the Belfield Police Department merged with the Sheriff’s Department.
In a phone conversation with The Dickinson Press, Belfield City Auditor Connie O’Brien said the City of Belfield pays the sheriff’s department $17,750 per month. That rate increases marginally on an annual basis. Richardton City Auditor Marcy Kuntz said her city pays the department $1,000 per month to enforce ordinances upon request. A figure for the City of South Heart was not immediately available.
Councilman Roger Decker noted that snow accumulation in the alleys between 3rd and 4th Avenues SW has made garbage collection difficult. He recommended that residents living on 4th Ave place their garbage containers on the street for pickup instead of in the alley. He also requested that residents in the manufactured houses west of the alley on Main Street do the same.
“The alleys are just too narrow and they don’t even sit there, they’re falling off. It’s so steep,” Decker said.
Councilmen agreed these changes would likely not be made until after this winter is over. O’Brien said it could cause issues because some residents won’t like being required to move their trash cans back and forth.