New officers help with minor issues, keeping cops free
JANESVILLE—Dressed in a light-blue uniform and driving an Impala with the city of Janesville logo and a bar of orange lights, two of the newest additions to the Janesville Police Department don't look like average cops.
That's because they're not.
Mary Frank and Mike Rundle are the department's community service officers—citizen employees, not sworn officers—who have been handling parking enforcement, stray animals and traffic control since January.
Taking care of those problems helps make sure other cops don't get bogged down in less weighty issues, officials said.
“Their assistance has allowed for us to keep patrol officers available … with them dealing with the more minor infractions,” said Sgt. Chad Pearson, who oversees the community service officers program.
“It allows the officers to have more time available for issues that really require a police officer's response,” Chief Dave Moore said.
The program was born following debate between police and the Rock County Humane Society, which used to handle the animal control work that officers now take care of.
Funding for the two part-time positions came from money the humane society used to charge the police department to pick up stray animals, Moore said.
Now, the department does that itself, he said, using the savings to pay for the two new officers. Along with their black Impala, they can also drive a van filled with cages for transporting stray animals.
“Primarily, they were brought on to assist us with our animal control,” Moore said.
Most of the animals still end up at the Rock County Humane Society, he said.
Officers also take a handful of owned animals—those whose owners are unable or unwilling to take care of them—to the Dane County Humane Society each month because Rock County doesn't accept them, Moore said.
So far, the average number of animals taken to Dane County has been fewer than four each month, he said.
Along with their animal control work, Frank and Rundle handle other tasks to support sworn officers, such as directing traffic during traffic accidents or around schools, dealing with abandoned vehicles and helping with filing and record keeping.
The list of duties has evolved with the program, Pearson said.
“It's a growing assignment now, it's still developing over time,” he said.