By Patricia Bogumil
The Waterford Village Board recently laid to rest the recurring question of which agency will provide local law enforcement services to the village in 2013.
With Village Trustee Roy Gawlitta unsuccessfully trying to vote neither for nor against the contract, the board overwhelmingly decided Sept. 24 to continue using the services of the Racine County Sheriff’s Department next year for local protection.
The newly approved 2013 contract is similar, but not identical, to an earlier version that the village and sheriff’s office have been discussing since May.
Since then, the village also considered a proposal prepared by the Town of Waterford Police Department. The town’s offer was voted down in August, with Gawlitta casting the only vote to support it.
• The new 2013 contract carries a cost of $371,108.
New wording has been added to specify that, if requested, the Sheriff’s Office will provide a squad car for the village’s officer to use, at a charge of $0.55 per mile driven by the village officer.
New graphics will be added to whichever sheriff’s squad car is assigned to patrol the village, paid for by the Sheriff’s Office.
In 2013, the Sheriff’s Office will begin providing detailed management and support for the village’s one police officer, who is currently managed by the town police chief at an annual cost of about $15,000.
The village administrator will be provided with a schedule and contact information for deputies working each shift.
Deputies will also provide assistance with village animal control issues, including feeding lost or abandoned animals, if needed, and monitoring the shelter provided for them.
As the board prepared to vote on the new contract, Gawlitta spoke up.
“I have high regard and respect for the sheriff’s department,” he said.
But Gawlitta again questioned the wisdom of paying $371,000 annually for county deputies to enforce village ordinances and patrol the streets, since their presence in the village is already mandated to uphold county, state and federal law.
During the roll call vote on the 2013 contract, Gawlitta first voted “present” rather than “yes” or “no.”
“I’m not voting for or against,” Gawlitta told the board.
“So, are you abstaining?” asked board President Tom Roanhouse. Gawlitta explained that he was voting “present.”
“Would you please vote ‘yes’ or ‘no?’” asked Roanhouse.
Village administrator Rebecca Ewald said that if Gawlitta in fact was considering abstaining, he then would need to have a valid reason to support that abstention.
At that point, Gawlitta changed his vote to “no.”