Darien considers contracting for patrols

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Sunday, February 28, 2010
— If the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office takes over patrol duties in the village of Darien, it would be the first such agreement in the county.

But the concept is common around the state and the nation.

“The economy is such that it’s hard for a small municipality to adequately provide their own police services,” Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said.

In Rock County, the sheriff’s office has been contracted since 2003 to patrol the village of Footville. The village in 2010 will pay $53,000 for 1,100 patrol hours, Cmdr. Troy Knutson said.

Walworth County Sheriff David Graves on Monday gave the Darien Village Board an idea of what it would cost and what it would look like if his office started patrolling the village. The presentation was at the board’s request.

Graves studied the matter “extensively” before making his presentation, he said. No other municipalities have made such a request of his office, but if they did, Graves would be willing to do the research, he said.

“It would be a first in Walworth County,” Graves said. “Departments in other counties that provide the product, it seems to work out well for them.”

Graves told the Gazette the change would mean his office would gain five additional patrol deputies that the village would pay for. The start-up cost for the program would be $496,820, Graves said.

That includes labor, vehicle and equipment costs, training and insurance, he said.

The village budgeted $477,382 for police services by six employees in 2010, Administrator Marc Dennison said. That does not include the cost for the clerk, who works part time for the police department and part time for the municipal court, Dennison said.

Four full-time officers and one-part time officer work in the village, Dennison said.

The village could see cost savings in the long run because the sheriff’s office has greater purchasing power than the village for things such as equipment and insurance, Dennison said.

The board will mull over the presentation and could make a decision at its regular meeting March 15, Dennison said.

Change of command

Graves said the plan would bring to the village “all the resources of the sheriff’s office with local control.”

The plan would provide 24-hour, year-round patrol services in the village, Graves said.

The officers who work for the village would be welcome to apply for positions with the sheriff’s office, Graves said. But if they are hired, they might not be assigned to patrol in the village, he said.

Deputies with higher seniority could request to work shifts in the village, Graves said.

Deputies patrolling the village would be supervised by the sheriff’s office commanding officer on duty, he said. The change would mean the commanding officer would have one more deputy to supervise per shift, he said.

The village wouldn’t be “just buying a patrol officer,” Graves said.

“With this bid, they get administration, the undersheriff, myself plus an on-duty supervisor,” Graves said. “They don’t have a chief or an assistant chief. They have our full command staff.”

Personnel matters would be the responsibility of the sheriff’s office, Graves said.

“This frees up your administrator to deal with the day-to-day operations of running your municipality,” he said.

The village would retain its municipal court as a revenue source, Graves said. The deputies would enforce village ordinances, he said.

Sheriff’s office squad cars marked “village of Darien” would be dedicated to village patrols, he said.

‘Years of turmoil’

When Graves studied providing services to Darien, he worked closely with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office, he said.

That office contracts to provide law-enforcement services to seven municipalities, Sheriff Daniel Trawicki said. Most recently, the department Jan. 1 started providing services in the city of Pewaukee.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that city officials said the change would save at least $800,000 in 2010 as well as end “years of turmoil within the police department.”

The department’s police union filed for a temporary restraining order to block the change, but the motion was denied, according to online court records. The case is pending in appeals court, Trawicki said.

The “turmoil” was the 2008 resignation of former Police Chief Gary Bach. City officials charged him with violating city policies.

The Darien Village Board also has a recent history of filing charges against a police chief. In early 2009, the board filed several charges against Police Chief Steve DeVoy.

DeVoy was accused of violating village policies. After a year of legal wrangling, DeVoy agreed to resign to have the charges dropped. The village paid him for six months he isn’t working in addition to 11 months he was suspended with pay.

The village paid DeVoy $30,000 on top of that.

DeVoy now works as an officer in Williams Bay.

Trawicki it’s common for personnel issues to be one reason for a municipality to want his department to take over police duties.

“There are two things that go hand in hand,” Trawicki said. “The first is budget shortfalls. Then usually it’s a grouping of personnel issues and problems that don’t seem to be going away. The city starts to ask, ‘What alternatives do we have here?’”

Darien residents last year said in a referendum that they want village officers to keep providing police services in the village.

Village residents in April voted 203-152 against a non-binding referendum to keep police services a village function.

The referendum asked: “Should the village of Darien reduce 24-hour coverage by village of Darien police, therefore reducing the village of Darien budget and tax levy?”

Last updated: 12:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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