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Enbridge donation aimed at community safety

Superior Police Officer Jeff Harriman and his K9 partner, Lacka, participate in Operation K9 at Superior's AMSOIL facility June 8. Donations like a $5,000 Safe Community program grant from Enbridge helped add Lacka to the force. Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com 1 / 2
Tom Peterson, supervisor for Enbridge's Superior terminal, presents two $5,000 checks to Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander Wednesday at the terminal. Peterson worked with Alexander to secure the $10,000 Safe Community program grant, which will offset the cost of the department's new K9 unit and fund crime prevention measures. Maria Lockwood2 / 2

Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander has been involved in grant-writing for years. Enbridge surprised him.

"This is the first time I received a grant for more than what I actually requested," the chief said. "I had requested $7,000."

Instead, Superior Terminal Supervisor Tom Peterson handed Alexander two $5,000 checks Wednesday from the energy company's Safe Community Program.

"If you're going to the well, you might as well make it worth it," Peterson said. "We're proud to be able to secure this."

One check will be used to offset the roughly $22,000 cost of adding a second K9 team to the department. Officer Jeff Harriman and his partner Lacka graduated in May and have been making their presence known ever since.

The pair made a pretty substantial drug bust a few days ago, Alexander said.

"At least a pound of marijuana, money and a think a firearm as well," the chief said. "That's an example of it being put to good use already."

The other $5,000 will be used for the department's crime prevention program. Those dollars could help with community education events, assist the random acts of kindness program, cover the cost of an unfunded piece of equipment or fund initiatives that help build a relationship to the community and reduce crime.

"I really appreciate the discretion to be able to have those funds to work towards other projects that otherwise aren't accounted for in my budget," Alexander said, as about 94 percent of the department's budget is allocated to officer pay and benefits.

Enbridge is making it a point to build a closer relationship with the police department in 2018, as it has over the past few years with the Superior Fire Department.

"It's nice to have those relationships where you're not meeting for the first time at an incident," Peterson said. "It's been a real pleasure to work with the chief and his patrol officers."

Officers are set to tour the Enbridge facility to become more familiar with the layout. Peterson has also been working with the city and Lt. Thor Trone to address speeding issues along Bardon Avenue.

"The traffic that comes out of our pipeline maintenance office is large trucks and equipment, whether it's payloaders or tractor trailers," Peterson said. "People can come up on em really quick. They're not built for speed."

The police department has brought out the speed trailer and done some targeted enforcement. A more permanent solution — a fixed, mounted speed monitor — is on tap for Bardon Avenue, and may be in place by this spring.

Since 2002, Enbridge's Safe Community program has provided $10.7 million in grants to emergency response agencies near its pipelines.

Alexander applied for the grant in the spring of 2017, before protests began cropping up at the company's Line 3 construction sites in Douglas County.

Peterson can still remember one of the first Safe Community grants the Superior Fire Department received. It was used for a pair of forceps. Two weeks after the forceps were purchased, they were used to save the life of a person who was choking.

It's "really cool" to be part of those success stories, Peterson said.

Adding a new K9 to the Superior Police Department is all about keeping the community safe, Alexander said. In addition to Lacka and Harriman, the department boasts Officer Nick Eastman and his K9 partner Marik. The move doubles the amount of on-duty hours a K9 officer is available, spreads their on-call responsibilities and gives them an in-house training partner.

Canine units can sniff out drugs or track a lost child. They can deter suspects, which leads to more compliant arrests and a reduction of use of force incidents. And they can break the ice at public relations events. People start asking questions about the dog, Alexander said, and that can foster conversation about crime issues.

"I think it's safe to say the expansion of our K9 unit to two dogs wouldn't have happened if there wasn't community members like Enbridge and others who helped contribute toward offsetting those costs," Alexander said.

The AMSOIL Northland Law Enforcement K9 Foundation, for example, provided $7,500 for Lacka.

For more information about Enbridge's Safe Community program, visit www.enbridge.com/About-Us/Community-Investment/Safe-Community.aspx.

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