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BE Police Department aims to protect and serve

By Staff | Mar 18, 2018

Prior to becoming Blue Earth’s police chief, Tom Fletcher (middle) spent 20 years as a patrolman. While he primarily handles day shift duties, Chad Bonin (left), and Josh Crofton work the evening hours. Together, the Blue Earth Police Department works day and night to serve and protect the community.

Security, safety and peace of mind. That is what the Blue Earth Police Department provides for its citizens.

In addition to six-year police chief veteran Tom Fletcher, the city’s police force consists of four full-time officers; Josh Crofton, Chad Bonin, Tharen Haugh and the longest tenured full-time officer, 11-year veteran Missy Felion.

The Blue Earth Police Department also employs a total of 11 part-time officers. Together, this unit is responsible for keeping a watchful eye on the roughly 3.5 square mile town, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.

As Fletcher explains, he mixes in patrol work with administrative duties at the department’s office located on South Walnut Street. Although the police chief works a 10-hour work shift starting at 7 a.m., there is still plenty of work to do after hours.

“I do get calls and text messages in the office or at home, whether it’s 12 at night or seven in the morning, that’s kind of how my day goes,” Fletcher says.

Despite the quaint appearance of the rural Minnesota town, Blue Earth had its share of crimes in 2017. Fletcher revealed the Blue Earth Police Department made 109 arrests last year.

A total of 20 traffic-related arrests were made by the department, followed by 19 narcotic arrests, 18 assault arrests, and 17 theft and burglary arrests were made in 2017. According to Fletcher, these statistics are fairly normal yearly totals for the area.

“Some years, there might be 115 arrests, other years it might be 102, but we’re always over 100,” the police chief says. “You would think if you live in a small town, there would be nothing going on, but there is. There’s always something going on.”

One statistic the Blue Earth Police Department is extremely proud of happens to be their clearance rate, or the percentage of cases that have been solved. In 2016, the department recorded a 76 percent clearance rate. While the data for 2017’s clearance rate has not yet been tabulated, Fletcher says his unit works extremely hard to ensure a large number of cases can be solved.

“That’s a really important thing that we do. If you’re a victim of a crime, there’s nothing more important to you than catching the person who committed that crime. To have 76 percent of our cases solved is really an amazing number.”

Each time the Blue Earth Police Department is presented with the challenge of tracking down a perpetrator, the unit follows a simple, but important protocol. By gathering evidence to determine who was involved, what happened, when the incident occurred, where it took place, why did it happen and how, it allows the police to narrow down a list of suspects for the crime.

Once the detective work has been completed, Fletcher says the odds of solving the crime increase dramatically. However, the perpetrator may walk free if just one of those questions remains unanswered.

“It’s always kind of done the same way. You have to figure out who, what, where, when, why and how,” Fletcher shares. “If you can figure out all those steps out, you can solve the crime. If you can’t figure out one of those steps, you are going to have a hard time.”

Ironically, chief Fletcher comes from a proud line of law enforcement officers in the area. His father Roger, and grandfather Earl, both served as sheriff of Faribault County.

At the urging of his wife, Mandy, Fletcher now displays a sign in his office which was taken from the old sheriff’s building where his father once worked.

“There was nothing that tied me into this office. It drove my wife crazy that I wouldn’t move into an office or do something to make it mine, so now I have this,” Fletcher chuckles.

The Blue Earth native, husband, and father of two, feels a special sense of pride to carry on the family tradition of protecting the community.

“It’s nice to work in the town you’ve cared about your entire life. It’s nice to be in a place with people you care about because it makes the job so much more fulfilling,” he adds.