Salem Lakes Village Board suspends public safety department operations

The Salem Lakes Village Board on Wednesday suspended the operation of its Public Safety Department until further discussion about the future role of the department can be held.

The motion to suspend was made by Trustee Mike Culat and was seconded by Trustee Dan Campion. The suspension passed with a 6 to 1 vote, with village President Diann Tesar being the lone dissenting vote.

In introducing his motion, Culat said he felt the Public Safety Department overlaps services provided to the village by the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department.

“I do not see the need to have two police departments,” Culat said. “I have not talked to a single person in five years who appreciates our Public Safety Department … I think it’s redundant.”

Village administrator Patrick Casey and President Tesar argued against the suspension. Instead they favored a discussion of the department’s role without the suspension. That would ensure the department was in place for the beginning of water patrol season at Memorial Day. Water patrol on the village’s many lakes has been conducted by Public Safety.

“I welcome whatever you want to do, whatever you want to discuss but I think it’s premature to suspend,” Casey said.

Said Tesar: “I don’t think we should suspend anything until we talk.”

Tesar also argued that enforcement of village ordinances on issues such as junk in people’s yards might suffer if left in the hands of the sheriff’s department because deputies will have more important matters to deal with.

“They (deputies) are not going to come out for someone’s junk in the yard,” Tesar said.

But Trustee Ted Kmiec argued that such ordinance or code enforcement could be effectively done by civilians, not sworn officers with firearms like the public safety officers.

Salem’s Public Safety Department was the subject of some controversy among Town Board members last year when board members learned that the department had been accepted to a grant program to increase traffic enforcement. That program required a certain number of contacts per shift covered by the grant. Consequently, officers were doing more traffic enforcement, especially along Highway 50, than in the past. Officer Michael Ventura died in a crash on July 8 on Highway 50 while driving a Public Safety Department vehicle. The town withdrew from the grant program in August.

In November, with the merger of Silver Lake and Salem in process, the Silver Lake Village Board created a Public Safety Department from the old Salem department, though with some apprehension from trustees about the scope of powers.

Culat and Kmiec said they were confident there was time to resolve the role of Public Safety and water patrol before the need for enforcement on lakes was needed.

13 Comments

  1. Put a leash on says:

    Pat Casey over stepped his job. He has no right to argue for or against any motion by our board. Get him under control. He doesn’t live in our village of SALEM LAKES!😎

  2. Citizen says:

    So what about our coverage by the Sheriff’s department.
    Now that we are a village with over 5000 population I believe by state law we need to provide police protection. This can be done by hiring the Sheriff’s department but currently we are not in compliance. We would need more deputies and cars to cover the larger area. We might also need 24/7 coverage.
    One way to be in compliance would be to hire more Sheriff’s dept. services.
    Another way, which will probably come next, is to form our own 24/7 police department. For a million dollars or so a year we could have a very good police department to cover all of Salem Lakes along with water patrol operations.
    Seems that being one of the largest villages in the state it is absurd we don’t have a police department. We can always raise taxes to pay for it (or pay the Sheriff’s department more)
    It’s coming, no one wanted to talk about it until the elections were over.

  3. Bold move! says:

    Not totally unexpected but bold nevertheless.

    As this board goes about the process of consolidating the town and the village it also needs to review all departments and procedures from top to bottom. If it takes one year, two years or three years, it needs to be done.

  4. Lynn says:

    If the public safety dept. is disbanded and there is no longer a Silver Lake Police Dept., then who will cover the water patrol on Silver Lake? This is desperately needed, not only on holidays when the lake is extremely busy, but on weekends during the summer months. Not everyone knows the rules about towing skiers, no wake times, etc. Please take this under advisement and come up with a solution.

  5. RANDY LEE says:

    FINALLY NO MORE “FAKE COPS” IN SALEM WORSE THAN BARNEY FIFE

  6. @citizen: At Wednesday’s meeting, it was explained that the sheriff’s department and the village have a contract for coverage that carries over from Silver Lake. There is an intent to revise that as needed to reflect the change in the new village’s boundaries. Chief Deputy Marc Levin was in the audience and he assured the board and the audience that the department is covering the entire village. “You folks are being taken care of,” Levin said. “Citations are being issued; calls for service are being answered.”

  7. joe says:

    @ Citizen. Move back to the city!!!!

  8. Citizen says:

    Darren, The former Village of Silver Lake used the Sheriff’s dept. for police coverage for a price that was negotiated based on size of village and hours of coverage. At a minimum that fee will go up if more officers, vehicles, and hours of coverage are increased.
    How can we expect the Sheriff’s dept. to cover a much larger area for the same $. This will cost us dearly one way or another. Now that we are a village over 5000 people we must provide adequate police services although what is deemed adequate may be a matter of opinion. At some point it may be more cost effective to have our own department. If we just add people (or hire Sheriff’s dept.) to do the water patrol that to will come with a cost.

  9. Citizen does not know much says:

    The good ‘CITIZEN’ doesn’t seem to understand that the Kenosha County Sheriff patrolled the much larger town since the beginning of time. The good ‘CITIZEN’ doesn’t seem to understand the benefits of a larger force and the constant, ongoing education and equipment improvements that the KSD employs that any village, even one as large as the super Village of Salem Lakes could not keep up with. The good CITIZEN should learn a little, ask instead of assuming, run for office and that not withstanding, take a seat and watch people who do have the experience actually execute their jobs. The conclusions that the good ‘CITIZEN’ jumps to are based on many assumptions. We know what happens with that kind assuming, don’t we?

  10. Not happy says:

    Not happy that Casey still has a job after the line of duty death of the public safety officer who was patrolling Hwy 50 under a grant that the board knew nothing about. By Vaseys actions only tells me he is making decisions without seeking approval. Don’t be surprised if the officers family sues the village.

  11. to 'Citizen' and all others says:

    This requirement has been talked about many many times before.

    Yes the new ‘Salem Lakes’ by statue is required to provide police coverage. But for Salem Lakes to start and keep a police department, it is not the most efficient nor best way to go.

    As much as you might think we are a large village we still are a rural area that only needs so many officers. To hire, train and then keep ‘competent’ officers at a reasonable wage and income for them would be prohibitive. A ‘Small’ department like you are wanting would be the entry point for many officers right out of school. (we already have history with that). They would get their training here and put in the required time to pay us back for that and then move on to bigger and greener pastures.

    It happens all across the public spectrum. Young first responders get started some place small, put in a couple of years then move on to a larger better paying department. This is not new.

    It is much better for us, a ‘big-little Village’ to just hire out to the Sherriff and get well trained experienced seasoned officers at a moment’s notice.

    God forbid anything big were to happen around here wouldn’t you want a large department like the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department to pull resource from? Sure they would always be around but by just contracting with them from the start,(as we already are) we just write a check instead of trying to hire and pay for the decades of experience we get with the likes of sheriff Beth and his highly trained and long experienced deputies.

    So I’ll ask, “Do you want very young and always rotating thru new people for your police protection or do you want a seasoned department to just come in and do the job?”

    I’ll argue that the ‘cost’ will be less with the latter

  12. To the post above says:

    Right on who ever you are. You have your finger on the pulse. Fire and rescue needs an overhaul also.

  13. Cowmine says:

    Before you speak, educate yourself. Look at duplication of services. Tax Payers of Salem Lakes! You have always been paying part of taxes to Kenosha County. This includes the Sheriffs Department and their services. Note the verbiage on their vehicle: KENOSHA COUNTY SHERIFF. That mans the whole county.
    Not buying it? Look into what Burlington did. Disolved their police department and contracted with Racine County Sheriff. Its about cost! Who wants to pay for services you already have and are paying for. Wake up.

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