The city of Weyauwega’s Police Task Force Committee recommended that the city contract for another year with an interim police chief who will then groom someone from within the department to become the full-time chief.
That recommendation – made during the committee’s Aug. 31 meeting – will go before the Weyauwega Common Council when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, in the lower level of the Weyauwega Public Library.
The committee hopes that Ed Janke, who has been Weyauwega’s interim police chief since last fall, will continue in this capacity.
He was appointed interim police chief last fall after Curt Field resigned in September 2009 as chief.
The recommendation from the task force committee calls for a strategic plan to be developed by the interim part-time police chief and for him to mentor one of the police department’s present four officers to then become the department’s full-time chief.
This means the department would ultimately have a full-time police chief and three full-time officers.
The recommendation follows months of discussion by the task force committee, including consideration of contracting with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department for police services.
Last November, Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel proposed that the city contract with the sheriff’s department. Under his proposal, Weyauwega’s four police officers would have become deputies of the sheriff’s department and members of the union.
The four officers would have been assigned to the city for a minimum of three years, with administrative duties handled through the sheriff’s department.
The Police Task Force Committee was appointed last December and has met at least once per month since that time.
Members of the committee agreed that the present situation – an interim part-time police chief – is working.
And, they also like the idea of the interim chief mentoring someone from within the department over the course of the next year to become the next chief.
“People in the community have indicated that they really want to keep the department,” said Jerry Juve, who served on the task force committee and is also a member of the Weyauwega Common Council.
He said that while contracting with the sheriff’s department looked attractive, there were too many uncertainties – whether Weyauwega’s officers would have been required to take a written test. Juve also said that services from the sheriff’s department, such as investigative help and the K-9 unit, are already available upon request.
Janke is familiar with the idea of contracting for police services.
“It’s happening throughout the country,” he said. “It seems that the idea has not fully matured in the county yet.”
Janke said that in his mind, contracting is the best option and that if done right, the citizens would not know the difference.
Hardel said he believes the task force committee made the best decision.
“I still felt your best option was to keep your own police department,” the sheriff said, explaining that they were there to help and will continue to be.
“I think contracting will be looked at more down the road,” Hardel said. “As long as you can afford your own department, that is best. People want their own.”