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Dorchester police chief, officer quit

Dorchester police chief, officer quit Dorchester police chief, officer quit

By Kevin O’Brien

Dorchester officials are considering future options for local law enforcement after the police chief and the village’s parttime officer both quit as of last Friday.

Longtime chief Gary Leichtman submitted his two-week notice via email on July 17, the same day as part-time officer Consuelo Maldonado-Rodriguez also emailed her notice of resignation.

Village president Kurt Schwoch said the village is currently relying solely on the Clark County Sheriff’s Department for police protection.

The resignations were first discussed publicly at a special village board meeting held on July 27.

According to draft minutes of that meeting, village officials are considering three main options for law enforcement going forward: contracting with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department; contracting with the Colby-Abbotsford Police Department; or hiring one or more full-time officers to keep the Dorchester Police Department intact.

The minutes also included public input from resident Sarah Serrano, who works at the Medford Police Department and has previously served as chair of the village’s committee. She warned the board about the “long, drawn-out process” for hiring and employing police officers.

“She questioned whether the village of Dorchester is equipped to hire and employ police officers properly. She warned that if the processes are not done properly, the village of Dorchester could get into trouble legally,” the minutes state.

Village trustees voted to accept both resignations, but the discussion of either filing the vacancies or contracting with an outside entity was tabled until the board could learn more about the costs.

The village’s police committee currently includes two members, Linda Baumann and Jeremy Skubal. A third member, Kurt Halopka, recently resigned because he moved out of Dorchester.

Going forward, Schwoch said he plans to increase the number of committee members to five, which will require three new members to be appointed.

Dorchester has considered other options for police protection in the not-toodistant past. In March of 2017, the village board entertained an offer from the Colby-Abbotsford Police Department to provide 24/7 police coverage to the village at an estimated cost of about $166,000 per year, but trustees eventually declined that offer. At that time, the cost of contracting with the CAPD would have been $56,000 more than what the village was paying for its chief and part-time offi cer.

It is unclear what led both Leichtman and Maldonado to resign at the same time.

Schwoch said Leichtman, who was hired by the village in 2002, was “retiring” from his job, while Maldonado-Rodriguez had personal reasons for wanting to move on.

Neither resignation email mentioned any reason for wanting to quit the department at this time. Maldonado-Rodriguez, who was first hired by the village in 2015, did thank Leichtman for helping her get a start in her career.

“I will remember and apply the knowledge you have taught me in this field of work, as I continue my career in law enforcement,” she wrote.

Earlier this year, Leichtman filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workplace Development, accusing the village of shorting him close to $1,400 in overtime pay since 2017.

According to the complaint filed in April, Leichtman says the village owes him 106 hours of overtime pay after he was switched from salaried to hourly in July of 2017 and required to start punching a time clock. His complaint includes a copy of the village’s employee handbook, along with copies of his time cards from 2018, 2019 and 2020.

At its June meeting, the board was told that the complaint had been referred to village attorney Bonnie Wachsmuth, who is handling the village’s response to the state agency.