Janesville64.4°

Township names Kopp permanent chief

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ANN MARIE AMES
August 9, 2011
— The town of Beloit has a permanent police chief and no plans to consolidate its department with the Rock County Sheriff's Office.

The town board on Monday voted unanimously to hire Interim Police Chief Steve Kopp on a permanent basis, giving him a three-year contract. Kopp's salary will be $74,678 plus benefits, Chairman Rob Pavlik said.


Kopp is a township resident and a retired Janesville Police Department deputy chief. His contract will be up for review annually after the first three years, Pavlik said.


Kopp replaces former Chief John Wilson, who retired in January amid lawsuits accusing him of racism in the workplace.


Kopp could be just the person to turn around the town department's reputation, said Steve Christiansen, a former town of Beloit officer and Rock County deputy.


"We've turned a corner," Christiansen said.


He also said the town should keep its department intact and work to maintain a good relationship with the sheriff's office.


"There's nothing better than having a good department working next door," Christiansen said. "It works both ways. It's a safety factor, and it's a pride factor."


Late last month at the board's request, Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden made a presentation about providing services to the town. At that time, Spoden said the town could save $340,000 annually in personnel alone.


But the town could have incurred other costs such as those associated with retraining employees and it could lose money invested in personnel and equipment, Pavlik said Monday.


"I don't think the town would have recognized savings for the first couple of years," he said.


The board took no action on the matter Monday night, and future action is not expected.


"We'll keep this information and look forward to a long relationship with the county," Pavlik said.


Former Rock County Sheriff Howard Erickson said the town should keep its department intact while Kopp works to improve morale and operations within the department.


"We need to let the process work," Erickson said. "People already in there will earn their way out or their way up."


Other business

The town will research steps necessary to ask the Wisconsin Railroad Commission to ease requirements for semitrailer truck traffic at the tracks on Townline Road. Linde North America on South Walters Road asked the town to look into the matter.


Drivers in the area do not expect the tanker trucks coming to and from the air separation plant to stop at the tracks, spokesman Terry Donaldson said. Drivers have witnessed several near misses, he said.



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