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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Additional police officer a good move

For too long, the Bemidji Police Department has operated with too few officers in a city owning one of the highest crime rates in the state.

One of the most paramount services a city can provide for its citizens is public safety.

Timely, well-trained and professional police officers are paramount to providing a high quality of life.

It’s good to see Chief Mike Mastin and his officers will get some help after the City Council agreed to add another officer to the force, bringing Bemidji’s total to 32.

Retirements and resignations led to several openings in 2012, which marked Mastin’s first full year on the job.

It was a year in which he hired eight police officers – a quarter of the city’s force.

Hiring good officers takes time and effort. And the loss of experienced officers puts a strain on the department, while staff shortages make scheduling a tricky matter.

After 13 months as chief, Mastin has proven to be an effective, professional leader. Going forward, he and the department face the challenge of reducing crime, mainly through prevention efforts.

But the police department won’t be able to do it alone. It will take cooperation – from citizens to the city councilors – to keep Bemidji safe.

Team-based care

Dr. Valerie Fox, a family physician for Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, said a patient is best served when a team of medical staff works in tandem to address all of his or her medical needs.

That appears to be an underlying component of Sanford One Care, a team-based initiative which aims to improve health-care delivery for patients with chronic health concerns, is providing traditional American Indian healers for patients.

The new hires, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fargo, N.D., won’t necessarily perform traditional ceremonies. Instead, they will serve as consultants to existing medical staff, educating workers about cultural issues and also educating patients about their options for treatment.

Traditional healers also will work to link health-care providers with local tribes.

Currently, patients seek out traditional healing on their own.

The downside in Bemidji is that neither of the initial traditional healers likely will to be from the Ojibwe culture.

However, Dr. Read Sulik, Sanford Health’s senior vice president for Behavioral Health Services, said he wants to fund someone from the Ojibwe culture on a part-time basis to serve the Bemidji area.