Most all of our Chanhassen residents reading this article realize we are under siege by a group of young home invaders and thieves.

Recently the morning news (WCCO) reported this shady ring could be as large as 100 youth in their teens and 20s. They travel in groups of five: one driver, four burglars.

Our primary public safety tool to deter the problem is a contract with the Carver County sheriff. City officials contract with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office for all policing and public safety in Chanhassen.

That contract is negotiated every two years and includes limits on overtime, and number of officers that cover our city. (What are the details of the current contract? As a side note, I haven’t seen a routine nighttime drive-by on a regular basis for a very long time.)

Some residents are doing what they can to help the policing effort. Residents are posting photos of these thieves taken with their Ring doorbells and Ring spotlight cameras. (They are here and they are brazen.)

Some residents are taking passive security measures, making sure their vehicles are locked. They're taking their valuables and garage door openers into the house. They're keeping outside lights on. Despite all the effort, the problem continues and appears to be growing.

There's another variable that could bring the problem to a higher level of concern. The bolder they get, the greater likelihood of more home invasions. This is a recipe for very bad things to happen. Residents are exchanging information on Nextdoor neighborhood on the legality to use force.

Blaming the sheriff for all this ruckus is not the answer. He is policing to a contract put in place by our Chanhassen City Council.

Here are a few points to consider when evaluating our predicament:

  • The city eliminated the crime prevention specialist position. This was the official liaison between our Neighborhood Watch groups and the city. The crime prevention specialist sent out crime alerts to a point person in each neighborhood. With the elimination of the position, there's a strong likelihood that our residents who are not tied to Facebook do not have all the information they may need to stay safe. Neighborhood watch groups have lost that connection with the city. Organizing and executing public safety education is now a greater challenge.
  • According to what I could find, the current composition of the Carver County Sheriff's Office includes one canine unit. (After viewing the videos of our young thieves, I certainly could no longer run them down on foot. Another canine could help catch these fleet-of-foot crooks.) Asking one dog to cover such a large area is a bit much.
  • The county's 89-mile cyber link loop runs through the city of Chanhassen. It does not currently service any surveillance systems to enhance public safety such as CCTV. Put in the the right place, CCTV could surveil possible perpetrator escape routes.
  • Elected official priorities have shifted away from previous priorities. There was a time that public safety came first, followed close behind by infrastructure/road maintenance and water. Prioritizing resident safety once again will help.
  • Lastly, the city contract with Carver County Sheriff's Office period of performance is about to end. The city will soon have to establish a new contract. The city does have the option of reestablishing its own public safety entity to complement a contract with the Carver County Sheriff's Office. It should be considered.

There — I have said my piece. I know it's easy to be on the sidelines and throw out what I perceive as solid points and recommendations. But someone had to say something.

This is more important than being upset over a proposed development. This public safety contract affects us all. The public safety program needs deliberate and professional attention.

Bob Ayotte is a retired U.S. Army colonel and former Chanhassen city councilor.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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