Neese says her goal is to have kids, families see police as helpers
Saukville Police Officer Emily Neese brings a unique perspective to her job, because she is also a mother.
That heightened sensitivity has dovetailed well with Neese’s duty as police liaison at Saukville Elementary School.
Neese took on the assignment in September, when she began working the day shift following the retirement of Officer Barry Effinger.
“I felt that having a strong role at the elementary school was very important,” Neese said.
“What other aspect of my job is more important than keeping kids safe?”
When Neese approached Principal Chad Brakke about stopping in from time to time at the elementary school, he jumped at the opportunity.
She was introduced to students during a start-of-the-year school assembly, and has become a familiar sight in the building on a daily basis.
Neese is ready with words of encouragement, a sympathetic ear or advice for families that are dealing with behavioral issues.
“I drop in at the school several times a day. A strong presence at the school is one of the most effective ways to keep our school safe from the dangers that currently exist in our society,” Neese said.
“Our schools should always be a place where kids feel safe. Being active at the school allows the police department one more opportunity to have contact with kids on positive terms.”
Neese said she hopes to alter the image police have with youngsters.
“We don’t want kids growing up fearing the police. We don’t want children thinking that we will lock them up if they don’t eat their vegetables or clean their room,” she said.
During her daily visits to the school, Neese sometimes fields questions from staff members about police work or legal matters.
Sometimes, she even gets the opportunity to read a book with a student.
While on her daily patrols through the area, Neese also keeps a watchful eye on traffic driving through the school zone.
“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their kids walking to school and being hurt by drivers speeding through or driving inattentively,” she said.
By devoting so much time to the school, Neese said some police duties have occasionally been shuffled to other officers, but they gladly accept the shifted work.
Neese said there is one underlying message she hopes to pass along to children by her presence in the school.
“We want them to run to police in an emergency, not away,” she said.
As far as Brakke is concerned, Neese’s presence at Saukville Elementary has been a major success.
“Emily has been a great liaison between the school and some of our families who are struggling with attendance or other family issues that may interfere with their child’s education,” the principal said.
Police Chief Jeff Goetz said Neese continues to be proactive when it comes to community involvement. She is the coordinator for the department’s annual National Night Out observance and was involved in the Shop with a Cop program during the Christmas season.
Goetz said her interaction with children is a valuable component of the emphasis on community policing.
“The positive influence she will have on these kids now will pay big dividends in the future,” he said. “We are very glad to have her on our staff.”
Neese and Port Washington Police Officer Tom Schleg were recently recognized by the Port Washington-Saukville School Board for their involvement at local schools.
Image information: SAUKVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL has become a big part of Police Officer Emily Neese’s beat. Neese is shown with Principal Chad Brakke and students (from left) Isabella Piraino, Skylene Westing, Dustin Steelman, Cooper Devenport and Holly Konitzer. Photo by Sam Arendt