Beloit Township plans to preserve police
Sheriff Bob Spoden and other members of the sheriff’s office met with the town board in closed session Monday evening. The board listened to a 30-minute presentation detailing how the sheriff’s office would assume coverage if the township eliminated its police department.
Town Board Chairman Rob Pavlik said the issue came up earlier this year when community members suggested the board look into it.
A public meeting on the issue is scheduled at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8. The meeting will give citizens an opportunity to offer their thoughts, but Pavlik said it also would give the board a chance to explain its position.
“If there’s nothing that really stands out, we’re going to put this in the file and save it for later,” he said.
Pavlik praised the sheriff’s office presentation but didn’t believe anyone on the board was convinced it would better serve the community.
Spoden estimated consolidation would save the township $340,000 annually in personnel alone. It also would require the sheriff’s office to hire additional officers.
“I know local communities always have a strong allegiance to their police department, but the fact is the sheriff’s office could provide these services at a dramatically reduced (rate) from what they’re paying now,” Spoden said.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to be there either way to ensure that the town of Beloit has police services.”
Pavlik said citizens recommended the plan around the same time discrimination allegations were made against former Police Chief John Wilson.
The police department has improved since then, he said, and the board has faith it will continue to do so. Current Police Chief Steve Kopp was present at Monday’s meeting.
Pavlik said the board wanted to hear the report from the sheriff behind closed doors because the discussion included private matters within the township.
“We were talking about law enforcement techniques, personnel and we were talking about all kinds of wonderful contract negotiation things,” he said. “There were a lot of things there that would have required closed session.”
The exemption to the open meetings law cited on the town board’s agenda was “considering strategy for crime detection or prevention.”
Attorneys consulted by the Gazette said the sheriff’s report to the town board did not fit under that exemption.
Town attorney William Henderson disagreed.
“They requested if they could meet under closed session, and that was the only exemption I could fit it under,” Henderson told the Gazette. “It happens quite often that they would like to meet in closed session, and they ask me if they can do it.”