By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Village Board has approved hiring another police officer for 25 hours per week.
Travis Hakes, Elk Mound police chief, and Pat McDougall, village trustee and chair of the employee relations committee, presented the proposal for additional police officer hours at the village board’s April 1 meeting.
Mike Tietz, who is currently serving as the assistant police chief in Elk Mound, has indicated he wants to retire at the end of the school year, Police Chief Hakes said.
Tietz is employed for ten hours per week, so those ten hours, plus an additional 15 hours, could be used to hire another officer with no impact to the budget, he said.
A new police officer would be hired at a lower rate of pay than what Tietz is being paid, plus the Elk Mound Police Department could forego purchasing a records management software system as well as other budgeted line items, Police Chief Hakes said.
An additional 25 hours of police coverage for Elk Mound would be beneficial in view of recent property damage and several break-ins in the village, he said, noting that house windows have been smashed and storage sheds have been broken into.
An additional police officer would allow Elk Mound to put a priority on prevention of crimes rather than reacting to crimes after they have happened, Police Chief Hakes said.
Boyceville and Colfax have 96 hours of coverage per week, while Elk Mound has 30 hours per week, he said.
By increasing the hours, “we would be closing the gap,” Police Chief Hakes said.
Elk Mound has six or seven candidate applications on file for people who could be interviewed, he said.
The Colfax Police Department and the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department have offered to help conduct interviews and background checks, Police Chief Hakes said.
Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson also has indicated it is possible Colfax and Elk Mound could “share” an employee, which might make it more attractive for a police officer if he or she could be employed for 25 hours in Elk Mound and perhaps another 15 hours in Colfax, he said.
It is also possible, Police Chief Hakes said, that the 25 hours in Elk Mound would need to be divided up between two officers if other work schedules do not allow 25 hours for one person in Elk Mound.
Since the 25-hour police officer is part-time, Elk Mound would not have to advertise the position, said Pat Hahn, village clerk-treasurer.
Ken Schofield, the village’s attorney, has suggested that it still might be a good idea to post the position and advertise it in a few places, she said.
“It would give us a bigger umbrella to see if there might be candidates we are missing,” Hahn said.
The Elk Mound Village Board unanimously approved a motion to proceed with hiring another police officer for 25 hours per week at a cost not to exceed the police department’s current budget.
Village trustees Tony Schrantz, Chad Mousel and Paula Turner were absent from the meeting.
In addition to McDougall, Village President Andy Peterson and trustees Tom Gilbert and Travis Wenzel voted in favor of the motion.