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"Who you gonna call?" Redwood Falls Police Chief Cotner explains all

Chief Jason Cotner, Redwood Falls Police Department

“Who you gonna call?” If you are at least 25 years old you should know when that question is asked social convention dictates everyone in the room yell, “Ghostbusters!” But who do you call when you need police services and not paranormal elimination? The answer likely depends on where the crime happened rather than where you are at the time you make the call.

First, a little background. Per Minnesota Statute 412.221, subdivision 32, a city can establish a police department for the purpose of providing police services such as patrol, investigation, arrests and enforcement of state statute or local ordinances in the jurisdictional boundaries of that city. Likewise, county government has a sheriff’s departments for providing police service within the jurisdictional boundaries of the county. State statutes also authorize agencies such as the Metro Transit Police, Minnesota State Patrol, and Department of Natural Resources to name just a few. These agencies are then responsible for crimes and law enforcement services within their respective jurisdictions.

To report a crime or request police service in the City of Redwood Falls you would call the Redwood Falls Police Department. To report a crime or request police services for an incident in Redwood County, but outside the city limits of Redwood Falls, you would call the Redwood County Sheriff’s Department. Similarly, to report a crime that happened in the City of Marshall, you would call the Marshall Police Department.

From a practical standpoint, this make sense. If your car was stolen in the City of Marshall how could a Redwood Falls Police Officer conduct a thorough investigation? Obviously, the Marshall Police Department is best suited to investigate a crime in their city.

It can get tricky when you start looking at crimes that cross over jurisdictional boundaries such as identity theft, financial fraud, or crimes perpetrated with the use of a phone or the internet. Similarly, some crimes such as homicide, tax fraud or poaching can be investigated by local law enforcement but they are probably best handled by agencies with specialized training or resources. However, even when confronted with a crime in these grey areas it is still a good idea to start the process by contacting your local law enforcement agency for assistance.

For those of us in law enforcement this information is second nature. But RFPD routinely receives calls from people who want to report crimes or request police service for locations throughout Redwood County as well as surrounding counties and cities. Sometimes people get upset when we direct them to another law enforcement agency but we do that because we have to, not because we don’t want to help them.

If you need to report a crime or request police service, and you aren’t sure which law enforcement agency to call, you can always call Redwood Falls Police Department. If we can’t help you we will always direct you to the correct agency. But remember, if it’s an emergency always call 911 first.