By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — After working in the village for 13 years, Colfax Police Chief Pete Gehring is planning to retire in April.
The Colfax Village Board accepted Police Chief Gehring’s letter of retirement at the village board’s October 14 meeting.
According to Chief Gehring’s letter, his contract expires on Sunday, April 27, 2014, which is the latest date he intends to work for the village.
Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said she had put Police Chief Gehring’s retirement on the agenda so that the village board could start the process for hiring a new police chief.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved Police Chief Gehring’s retirement and authorized Ponto to start the process for advertising the position.
Police Chief Gehring ended his letter by saying, “For the most part, my tenure as the Colfax Police Chief has been interesting and rewarding. As in any job, there has been good and bad. I have tried to give this position my very best effort of compassion and professionalism. I have treated this community as my own and given more time and energy than timecards reflect. I suggest I be given an exit interview with the entire Village Board of Trustees and would like to see it be open to the public.”
Police Chief Gehring talked about his plans to retire at the Colfax Village Board’s public safety committee meeting on September 25.
In addition to discussing the police chief’s plan to retire, the public safety committee reviewed the proposed police budget for 2014.
The 2014 budget is $14,000 more than the budget for this year.
The proposed budget for 2014 of $211,794 compares to the 2013 budget of $197,728.
Police Chief Gehring noted at the public safety committee meeting that the $9,000 in pension per year that the village has saved by not having to pay the pension for him is added into the budget again next year for the new police chief.
The new police chief also will need a new laptop computer and will need a new uniform and equipment, he said.
The current laptop used by the Colfax Police Department is a surplus model from UW-Stout, Police Chief Gehring noted.
A new laptop computer will allow the new police chief to be able to work from home if necessary, he said.
In addition, the police department office will need a new floor covering because the existing floor has been damaged by mold. The floor in the front office has been there since the 1980s, Police Chief Gehring said.
Public safety committee members wondered how long it would take to find a new police chief.
Police Chief Gehring estimated that it would take the village between three and four months to find a new chief.
The village board also will have to make a decision about the starting salary for a new police chief, he said.
Officers who have left Colfax to take positions in other police departments have started out at a higher salary than the police chief is making currently in Colfax, Police Chief Gehring said.
“The longer you advertise, the better the chance you will have of getting a good person,” he told the public safety committee.
“There are many venues to advertise. You can’t do it too early,” Police Chief Gehring said.
If the new police chief comes from another state, he or she will have to be licensed as a law enforcement officer in Wisconsin, he said.
Wisconsin has the second-hardest qualifying police test in the nation, second only to California, Police Chief Gehring said.
Mark Halpin, chair of the committee and village trustee, noted that Police Chief Gehring has always come in under budget or has been right at budget.