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EM police chief recommending more patrol hours

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND  —  Elk Mound’s chief of police is recommending that the village increase the number of hours that police officers patrol the village.

The Elk Mound Village Board met August 5 but did not have quorum.

After declaring the lack of a quorum and adjourning the meeting, Andy Peterson, village president, allowed the police chief, Travis Hakes, to make his presentation about changing the structure of the police department.

The item was on the agenda for the village board’s August 5 meeting.

Elk Mound currently has 30 hours of police coverage per week, compared to 96 hours each for Colfax and Boyceville, Police Chief Hakes said.

The existing police department budget for wages is $34,320. The village could have 10 hours of police coverage per day, 365 days per year, for $66,800 in wages per year, he said.

In 2011, with one full-time police chief and part-time patrol officers, the village spent $65,557 on wages, Police Chief Hakes said.

If the police chief position was full-time with part-time officers for 70 hours of coverage per week, the cost would be $125,000 in salary and benefits, he said.

If there were eight hours of police coverage per day, instead of 10, the total annual cost for wages would be $51,200, Hakes said.

Keeping all of the police officer positions at 20 hours per week or less will save money for the village by not having to pay state retirement, he noted.

Hakes is employed full-time as a police officer in Lake Hallie but lives in Elk Mound.

Ten-hours shifts could be two five-hour shifts per day, Police Chief Hakes pointed out.

The village has recently been experiencing various acts of theft and vandalism.

Darren Bishop, the 24-year-old man from Ladysmith convicted of breaking into the Elk Mound village hall last fall to steal weapons to trade for methamphetamine, said he had targeted Elk Mound because of the limited police coverage.

The Elk Mound Village Board decided several years ago to go from a full-time police chief to a part-time police chief and then to use the money from the police chief’s position to fund a training period for a new director of public works.

Police Chief Hakes said he wanted to bring up the issue now of additional police coverage so the village board could consider the idea while working on the budget this fall for 2016.

The Elk Mound Village Board planned to hold another regular meeting August 12 at 7 p.m.

Present at the August 5 meeting in addition to Peterson were Village Trustees Tony Schrantz and Brenda Carpenter.

Village Trustees Tom Gilbert, Travis Wenzel, Pat McDougall and Chad Mousel were absent from the meeting.