Town hall meeting ‘just a start’Sletten hopes to keep addressing drug, gang issues. Steering kids away from drugs, alcohol and gangs was the focus of a Red Wing town hall meeting held Tuesday in response to a recent murder.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Sletten hopes to keep addressing drug, gang issues.
Steering kids away from drugs, alcohol and gangs was the focus of a Red Wing town hall meeting held Tuesday in response to a recent murder.
The meeting’s purpose was to give people a chance to voice concerns about the murder and related issues. About 50 people attended the meeting, and a panel of local leaders was assembled to answer questions.
Red Wing City Council member Dean Hove, who came up with the idea for a meeting, said while he had hoped for some more in-depth questions from the crowd, the meeting went well overall.
“I just hope the dialogue continues,” Hove said.
Red Wing police Chief Tim Sletten agreed.
“It’s just the start,” he said about the meeting.
Sletten said the community must come together in response to drug and gang issues in Red Wing — issues associated with the murder.
“We need more people involved if we want to see a change,” he said.
On Jan. 20, a Red Wing man was killed after an apparent attempted narcotics robbery. Four people have been arrested in connection with the murder.
Other than a brief explanation of where the murder investigation stands by Goodhue County Attorney Stephen Betcher, the murder itself was rarely brought up at the meeting.
Much of the night’s discussion centered around keeping kids away from gangs and substance abuse. Sletten said getting to kids early is key to preventing problems.
“If we wait until a kid is 19 and commits a murder, guess what? We lost the game,” Sletten said.
One audience member brought up the question of where gang members come from. Police investigator Tony Grosso said there are gangs in Red Wing, but members cannot be attributed to one source.
“You can’t just say that someone moved in and brought gangs to Red Wing,” he said.
Asked where most gang members live, he said, “They live from one end of town to the other.”
Sletten and other panelists encouraged the public to call in any suspicious activity they see. Sletten said any information is useful even if it doesn’t lead to an arrest.
Dorothy Halla-Poe said the meeting both impressed and encouraged her.
“These are community issues the community can solve,” she said.