Herald Journal Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 11, 2002

Winsted's domestic calls up, drug use may increase

By Julie Yurek

The number of domestic abuse calls was up in Winsted in 2001 from 2000.

Thirty-five calls were received for domestic violence, and eight arrests were made, according to the department's annual report.

"Domestic violence is not just between husbands and wives or boyfriends and girlfriends. It could be between siblings or roommates," Police Chief Mike Henrich said.

The department also had its first homosexual domestic call, Henrich said.

Overall, most crime and service calls were down or stayed about the same, he said. "One can see when unemployment is high and when it's low."

The amount of bad checks usually rises and falls with the economy, Henrich said.

"In 1997, over 100 bad checks were written. From 1998 to 2000, the average number of bad checks were between 55 to 60. Seventy-six were written in 2001, with one felony, one gross misdemeanor, and 14 misdemeanor arrests."

The number of bad checks are still going up even though the department no longer handles bad check complaints from Casey's General Store, Tom Thumb, Glenn's Super Valu, and Jimmy's Pizza, Henrich said. "Those businesses go through a check service that collects them civilly."

"There hasn't been a big change from one year to the next," Henrich said.

Drugs cases may go up

Otherwise, 2002 has been relatively quiet, Henrich said. "Our drug level will probably increase."

Henrich believes Winsted will see an increase in drug abuse, particularly methamphetamine, also known as meth.

"It's the drug of choice right now, and it's easily available," he said. "We're seeing more activity in drug complaints.

With the threat of meth, the more likely it is that meth labs will spring up, Henrich said. The department and the fire department has had training in how to respond to a meth lab call. It was one of a city wide drills at one time, he said.

"It'll be different when we actually respond to a lab scene," he said.

On the national level, terrorism is the concern, but how much that will affect greater Minnesota is still a guess, he said.

Winstock does play into the annual report somewhat, but it's mostly reflected through the sheriff's department, Henrich said.

The report also reflected the department spent about 33 percent of its time patrolling and 26 percent doing paper work.

Reserve officer Chris Malo generated the report on his donated time, which was 468 hours for 2001.

"He did a wonderful job with the report. He did it on his own time, and it only cost the department material. It included high quality photos and graphics," Henrich said.

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