Janesville68.6°

New Whitewater police chief to take oath later this month

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Kevin Hoffman
September 7, 2011
— Whitewater interim police chief Lisa Otterbacher is expected to officially assume the chief’s job later this month, allowing time for further testing and review of her contract.

City Manager Kevin Brunner said during Tuesday’s meeting a contract was in place but a labor attorney still needed to review it. Otterbacher must also complete physical and psychological testing and a background check before the decision is made official.


The police commission last month chose Otterbacher to succeed Jim Coan as chief. More than 40 people applied for the job, and four took part in a public forum—the final step before the commission rendered its decision.


Otterbacher has spent 21 years at the Whitewater Police Department. She often handled Coan’s duties when he was unavailable or out of town.


“I’m so thankful that they did the search and screen,” Otterbacher said. “After 18 years (with Coan), you’re just assuming because someone has been here 21 years that they’re best suited for the department, and I’m not sure that the department or the citizens deserved that presumption. I know the police commission took some flak … but it does validate it.”


Council members and staff congratulated Otterbacher after Tuesday’s meeting. Brunner in his weekly report to the community said he was very pleased with the decision, calling Otterbacher a “consummate police professional … extremely well prepared to tackle the future challenges” of the department.


Among those challenges is a 4-percent budget cut, which Brunner said he’s asked all departments to do in preparing next year’s budget. Otterbacher said she’s determined to do that while maintaining her current staff.


Otterbacher’s eligibility for the position was questioned early on in the process because of a city requirement that its police chief live within city limits. Otterbacher lives outside the city, but she said her family supports moving.


“The Otterbacher family doesn’t do anything without a family vote,” she said. “I wouldn’t have even put my name in the hat if everyone wasn’t OK with moving.”



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