Police chief says move with make department more responsive to public
Village of Saukville officials are hopeful that by next month local police and fire dispatching will be handled full-time by the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department.
The Village Board unanimously approved the move last week, on the recommendation of Police Chief Jeff Goetz.
“We’ve been talking about it with the sheriff’s department, and Sheriff Straub said his department has the capacity and the manpower to handle the switch 24/7 at no additional cost to the village,” Goetz said.
The transfer would not be as dramatic as it appears on the surface. All 9-1-1 emergency calls already go to the sheriff’s department switchboard.
The sheriff’s department also handles dispatching for the village at night, on weekends and when dispatcher Laurie Miske is on vacation.
“A light flashes on their console when a phone call comes in at our switchboard during the day, but they have been asked to ignore it because we have someone on duty to answer those calls,” Goetz said.
Calls are currently handled by Miske between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Since becoming chief, Goetz said he has increasingly depended on Miske to complete administrative tasks that take her away from the switchboard.
When Miske leaves the building on errands or when she is on vacation, arrangements are already being made to have the sheriff’s department cover the void.
“I don’t think we are running nearly as efficiently as we will with one location for dispatch services,” he said.
With the police department covering no more than 40 hours a week of its dispatch duties, Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said the switch is a practical move.
“When you break it down, you realize how little time out of the week we are talking about,” Wagner said.
The sheriff’s department already handles dispatching for the Port Washington, Fredonia and Thiensville police departments, along with handling its own calls.
“I talked with the folks in Port, and they are very pleased with the way their dispatch is being handled,” Goetz said.
The dispatching switch was unanimously approved by the Village Board, with Trustee Dave Maglio abstaining. Maglio is a deputy with the sheriff’s department.
Goetz asked that the change be made effective Nov. 1. Straub said the department could meet that timetable for the change.
In conjunction with the dispatching move, the board also approved changing Miske’s job description to administrative assistant.
“We get 16 hours of work out of Laurie’s 8-hour days. A lot of the things listed in this job description, she is already doing,” Goetz said.
“She is very, very important in keeping this department running smoothly. I think it is important that this change be seen as a promotion for Laurie, not a lateral move.”
The new position will include a $1 an hour pay raise.
Goetz also asked trustees to support an upgrade to the phone system that is used by the police department and Village Hall.
The phone system was installed when the new police station was built, but it is not taking advantage of its digital capabilities.
“With the new system, we would be able to transfer phone calls directly to the cell phones in each squad car,” Goetz said.
He said the new system would also give the department — and village offices — a better way to personalize phone service.
“I hate phone trees,” Goetz said.
Trustees put off acting on the request until the cost of the conversion is provided by the system vendor, DigiCorp. That cost estimate is expected to be ready for the board’s Oct. 15 meeting.
If the project is approved, Goetz said he hoped the digital system would be in place in time to coincide with the dispatching move.
“Ideally, I would like to see all this happen with one big change,” he said.