Savage police are asking city officials to invest in greater security measures surrounding the police headquarters and city hall property.
During a work session on Monday, city staff urged the Savage City Council to invest an estimated $160,000 in fencing material to cordon off the property in the event of civil unrest or other emergency situations.
Savage City Administrator Brad Larson pointed to Brooklyn Center in a pitch for fencing materials, alluding to the arson fire that destroyed Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct last year in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
In April, when protests over the killing of Daunte Wright erupted outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, chain-link security fencing surrounded the property.
Larson said the fencing, which Brooklyn Center had readily available due to previous concerns of unrest, helped prevent another burning of a police station.
Savage Police Chief Rodney Seurer said local officers have been on “high alert” in light of civil unrest and perceived threats in surrounding communities, such as Burnsville and Shakopee.
“We have threats on each side of us and we’re in the middle and I don’t want it to happen in the City of Savage,” he said.
Council member Bob Coughlen pressed whether it’s necessary to “militarize our campus,” a characterization Seurer said he disagrees with.
To secure city campus, permanent fencing would be needed around the backside of the property where the terrain is too difficult to place temporary fencing, according to Larson.
Temporary fencing could then be used if needed to secure the rest of the campus in the event of an emergency.
Seurer is also requesting permanent fencing to secure the police department’s staff parking lot at the entrance of the police garage.
He said it’s not uncommon to see the public walking through the police parking lot, which makes officers uneasy — sometimes, a person will be spotted walking through in the middle of the night.
“The majority, I think, were playing Pokémon,” Seurer explained. “But still, it raises a red flag.”
Other incidents — such as popped tires and nails in the side of vehicles — have been more concerning, Seurer said, adding department members would “greatly appreciate” a safer parking lot.
Council member Matt Johnson said he supports the plan, but wants to be mindful of the aesthetics.
Council member Christine Kelly also emphasized the importance of maintaining a welcoming atmosphere if plans move forward to add fencing.
“I feel like this is our people’s building,” she said, referring to citizens of Savage.