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Dorchester hears sheriff’s offer

Dorchester hears sheriff’s offer Dorchester hears sheriff’s offer

The Dorchester village board took the first steps Monday in negotiating a contract with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department for temporary police coverage.

Clark County chief deputy Jim Hirsch was on hand for Monday’s special meeting to discuss potential plans for law enforcement in the village after the resignation of police chief Gary Leicthman and part-time officer Consuelo Maldonado-Rodriguez at the end of July.

“If you don’t have a contract, the state statute says that you cannot enforce local ordinances,” Hirsch told the board. “If we have a contract that means you can enforce local ordinances.”

Hirsch told the board that the Clark County Sheriff’s Department recommends contracts, and shared with the board several contracts that had been drafted in Marathon and Jackson counties for similar situations.

Board member Clem Klimpke asked Hirsch if contracts can be month-tomonth, or if it has to be a year-long contract. Hirsch replied that contracts can be flexible and can be tailored to the needs of Dorchester.

“I would say it’s whatever is in your guys’ needs,” he said.

Any reserve officer working over 600 hours is eligible to receive health insurance, Hirsch noted.

After an hour of discussion, the board approved a motion to allow Hirsch to discuss the drafting of a contract, with some of the potential features being a month-to-month contract that allows for 30 hours of police coverage a week, with hours being flexible throughout the week. The board also asked that the reserve officer be present at monthly board meetings and to deliver updates to trustees, as Chief Leicthman did.

The board asked that the contract allow the officer to continue to drive the village’s squad car, and both parties agreed to provide the officer with the necessary equipment, including a defibrillator.

Board members said they would attempt to come up with terms and suggestions in time to approve a contract at its next meeting, but it’s unknown if they will have the information available at its regular monthly meeting on Oct. 7.

However, Hirsch said the challenge isn’t creating a contract that suits Dorchester’s particular needs, but rather finding a reserve officer who is available to patrol the village and enforce its ordinances — citing a lack of applicants entering law enforcement.

Hirsch said if there is a contract in place, the county would provide coverage, but if it requires giving current deputies overtime, it could be costly.

“If we do have a contract the issue that I could foresee in the future is our reserve pool isn’t really that large,” Hirsch said. “We have some people right now that are in the background process for reserves . . . right now we have one that is all over the place. So, finding people is getting really difficult, especially in today’s social climate. The applicants just aren’t there.”

Residency requirement lifted

After discussing the potential terms of a contract with Hirsch, the board dispensed with a policy that would have required a police officer to live within a certain radius of the village.

“I feel that’s a double-edged sword,” trustee Keith Lageman said. “It would be real nice to leave it open, but we don’t want someone coming from Wausau.”

Board president Kurt Schwoch said they’d be severely limiting themselves in an already small pool if they were to require a reserve officer to live within a certain number of miles of the village.

“Let’s say you’re 40 years old and you’ve got the place of your dreams,” Schwoch said. “Now you’ve got to sell it so you can come work in Dorchester? They’re not coming. We have to go forward with the best applicant.”

Other business

_ The board appointed trustee Julie Goldschmidt to the Public Works, Village Buildings and Utility Committee.

_ The board approved a resolution authorizing Trustee Schwoch to talk with all involved parties about possibly improving the existing road bed on the dead-end road off of 4th Avenue and Oak Street, rather than the village pay for surveying.