Village of Elk Mound to apply for COPS Hiring Program grant
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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Village Board has given approval to the village’s police chief to apply for a COPS Hiring Program grant available through the United States Department of Justice.
The grant money would be used by the Elk Mound Police Department to hire a school resource officer, said Elk Mound Police Chief Chad Weinberger at the Elk Mound Village Board’s March 20 meeting.
A school resource officer requires three years of prior experience, and the position would be perfect for a retired police officer, he said.
Conditions of the grant are to hire one full-time police officer. The COPS Hiring Program grant provides $125,000 over three years, and 25 percent of the applications receive the funding, Police Chief Weinberger said.
A full-time police officer would cost between $70,000 and $80,000 per year with benefits, said Terry Stamm, village trustee.
Stamm chaired the meeting in the absence of Village President Gregg Kipp.
The village would have to work with the school district because it would take time to get the grant program set up, Stamm said.
The grant applications are due by the end of May, the police chief noted.
As a full-time officer, would the police officer be 100 percent committed to the school and not to the village? asked one village board member.
The officer would be a sworn officer with the Elk Mound Police Department and would be an employee of the department, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The school district is willing to pay for the police officer for the in-school time, he said.
The resource officer assigned to the school district could cover events when stationed at the school so that another officer would not have to be there, such as for sporting events, Police Chief Weinberger said.
If there was an emergency situation, such as a multi-vehicle accident, the school resource officer could respond to other emergencies in the community, he said.
The demand is increasing for community policing because of mental health issues and drug addiction issues. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recommends 2.2 police officers for every 1,000 people in a community, the police chief said.
Between the Village of Elk Mound and the number of students in the school district, Weinberger said he is currently doing the work of 4.4 police officers, and that the grant would provide an opportunity for the Elk Mound Police Department to move forward.
School resource officers have worked as a deterrent in bigger cities for people posing a threat at schools, Stamm said.
The grant would require a five-year commitment, three years for the grant and the last two years from Elk Mound, he said.
Another village board member asked if the police officer hired would be for a permanent full-time position.
After five years, the police officer would be full-time for the Elk Mound Police Department, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The police chief said he was not asking the village board for a five-year commitment to hire another police officer, but rather, was asking for approval to apply for the COPS Hiring Program grant.
The village board does not have to accept the grant if it is awarded, he said.
The Elk Mound Village Board unanimously approved submitting an application for the 2023 COPS Hiring Program grant.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, “The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is designed to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing by providing direct support to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide. CHP funding supports the hiring of career law enforcement officers to increase an agency’s community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts. The FY 2022 CHP award program was an open solicitation. All local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies having primary law enforcement authority were eligible to apply. The award selection process was highly competitive and based on a variety of factors including problem focus area, local crime data, agencies’ commitment to community policing, agencies’ demonstrated financial need, and statutory formulas.”
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Learned that the most unusual event for the Elk Mound Police Department in the last month was a visit by Flat Stanley, which is a project by elementary school students who make a Flat Stanley and then mail him to various people to include in their daily activities. Police Chief Weinberger showed a picture of Flat Stanley participating in police department duties. The visit by Flat Stanley is part of the department’s community engagement, he said.
• Learned that the Elk Mound Police Department had received 64 calls for service in February and had 25 cases total, including one arrest for disorderly conduct and battery.
• Learned that the Elk Mound Community Fire Department went out on four runs in February, including an accident on I-94. Colin Feuster is the new fire chief in Elk Mound. The fire department has $41,325 in savings.
• Approved using Local Road Improvement Program grant money and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money for three street projects. The village has $92,318 in ARPA money, and LRIP funding must be used or it will be lost, said Mark Levra, director of public works. One street could be pulverized and repaved for $43,900, according to an estimate from Dunn County, with $16,000 in LRIP funding available; South Fir could be pulverized and repaved for an estimated $42,600, with $14,521 available in LRIP funding; South University could be seal coated for $35,000, he said, adding that if all three street projects were completed, $3,500 would remain of the ARPA funds.
• Approved the intergovernmental agreement between the Elk Mound Police Department and the Boyceville Police Department. The agreement will expire September 20, 2023, and covers a job sharing arrangement between Police Chief Weinberger and Officer David Vodenlich of the Boyceville Police Department.