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Law Enforcement Committee Requests Two More Deputies

The Marinette County Law Enforcement Committee repeated its recommendation to the County’s Finance and Insurance Committee, Personnel and Veteran’s Service Committee, and Board of Supervisors that two additional positions for Sherriff’s deputies be created and funded as of Jan. 1, 2015. The Committee made its recommendation during its Monday, Aug. 11 meeting. 

The committee took the action after a previous recommendation to the Personnel and Veterans Services Committee for the county to hire the deputies failed on a 2-2 vote at its Aug. 8 meeting. This matter is “far too important to this Law Enforcement agency to get stopped by a 2-2 vote,” Sherriff Jerry Sauve told the committee in urging them to press the recommendation, noting that one member of the Personnel and Veterans Service Committee had not attended the meeting where the split vote stopped any action.

Chairperson Ken Keller voiced his disagreements with Sauve about the suitability of hiring two new deputies. Keller noted that the County Board’s Executive Committee had instructed the County Administrator to find ways to save ten percent on expenditures. Moreover, the Board has already approved the construction of a heated shed at the Law Enforcement Center and the purchase of two new police vehicles. Adding two additional deputies at a time of austerity may be an overreaction. Further, the numbers of city police in Marinette, which Keller represents, and sheriff’s deputies have been stable.

Supervisor Paul Gustafson told the Committee that Law Enforcement was a priority and he believed that the Sherriff’s Office needed adequate personnel to meet a crisis situation.

In other business, the Committee chose not to change any of the User Fees charged by the Sherriff’s Office in 2015. The District Attorney’s Office, the Clerk of Courts, and the Child Support Division may ask to increase fees for their services.  However, fees for registering burglar alarms and dealing with false alarms, civil fees, hiring an officer for a special event, electronic monitoring fees, and boarding an out of county inmate at the Marinette County jail will not be increased.

The Committee also decided to purchase a new ATV for use by the Sherriff’s office. A bid from North Motor Sports will have the County spending $5,800 on the new ATV after a $5,000 trade in of the 2007 model now in use. Members also forwarded to the County Board a proposed agreement with Wisconsin Lock and Load Prisoner Transports of Green Bay to transport inmates to out-of-county destinations. The rate will increase to $1.65 an hour because the introductory rate of $1 an hour has expired. Sauve told the committee that the company has been very reliable and has provided excellent service. Even at the increased rate, Sauve reported, the county will still save money by hiring this company instead of using its own personnel to transport inmates. Sauve reserves the right to move inmates when there is an immediate need or it would cost less.

Communications Director Kirsten Bellilse reported that a July 24 power outage at the Law Enforcement Center took down all of the building’s phones and radios for ten minutes, and 911 calls were transferred to the Oconto County 911 call center from 11:56 P.M. until 3:30 A.M. on July 25.

Lieutenant James Albright reported on a planned auction of outdated and surplus items that the Sherriff’s office no longer needs. The items include squad cars, center consoles with decks for laptop computers, tools and coins. The items will be listed on the Wisconsin Surplus Website until the end of the month.

Jail Administrator Bob Majewski reported that the jail averaged 133 inmates during the month of July, eight inmates higher than July of 2013. As of Aug. 11, ten inmates were boarders from Oconto County, and the jail is so full that an Aug. 8 request from Oconto County to house two more inmates had to be turned down. The table in the video-conference arraignment room had to be prepared after an inmate picked it up and threw it at the wall. Majewski urged the committee to improve delivery of electricity to the building, as “stuff happened that shouldn’t have happened” during the July 24-25 power outage. Majewski gave the four committee members and two reporters present a tour of the jail to show them the jail’s new camera system and point out places where painting and other maintenance had been done and other places where it was needed.

Emergency Management Director Eric Burmeister reported on the process in which the Federal Emergency Management Agency will update maps of the flood plains near rivers in the county. Land Information Director John LeFebvre has joined Burmeister in meeting with FEMA officials about the new maps, which will be published in 2015 or 2016. The new maps, he told the committee, should be much more accurate than previous maps. Burmeister will meet later this month with the Marinette School District and Marinette Police Department about the training he received in dealing with active shooters in schools. The Natural Hazards Mitigation plan has been approved by FEMA, and a reimbursement check for the county’s work should be coming from the Federal Government soon.

In his report, Sauve told the committee about an incident in Florence County very late on Saturday, Aug. 9, in which an armed man threatened some boaters and then fled into the woods. He also reported on high overtime expenditures during the month of July. The expenses were caused by the loss of Deputy Kevin Solway accepting a job as Marinette County’s Information Services Director and a deputy who is away on Family and Medical Leave Absence. A shooting incident on July 24 in the Town of Wausaukee created a need for more deputies on duty, as well as a writ from the Court to seize, inventory, and properly store the property of a business that deals in wedding dresses.

The Committee wrote off a $35 in non-collectible accounts, corrected a $73.50 error in an account submitted for collection at its July 13 meeting, and sent $37,809.04 in inmate board accounts to the County Finance Department for collection.

Sauve also reported on his work with the new Drug Court, which begins its work this month and is identifying people who might be good candidates. Marinette County will welcome 50 Wisconsin Sheriffs on September 3-5 for the annual Sheriffs’ Conference and Training Session.

Joining Keller, Gustafson, Sauve, Burmeister, Albright, and Bellilse were Commissiners Cheryl Wruk and Mike Behnke, along with Chief Deputy James Hanson and Administrative Assistant Fae Olson. The 1:15 p.m. meeting recessed at 2:33 p.m. for the jail tour and formally adjourned at 3:12 p.m. The committee will meet next on Monday, Sept. 8 at 1:15 p.m. in the Law Enforcement Center Center.


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