Silver Lake Village Board defends police department

A spirited defense of continuing to maintain a village police department was made by Silver Lake village officials Wednesday night.

The defense was in reaction to an anonymous letter received by Trustee Merlene Engstrom recently. The letter criticized the department for giving frivolous traffic tickets, harassing young people and asserted officers there only handle incidents of petty crime. Instead of a village force, the letter urged the village to allow the sheriff’s department to patrol the village.

But Village Board members at Wednesday’s meeting were adamant the department is worth the money it costs because it provides superior service to village residents.

“This is slander against our police department,” Engstrom said. “I’m just so irritated by this letter.”

Engstrom contended that many services offered by the village police department, like checking on homes while residents are away on trips, would not be available from the Sheriff’s Department.

The most aggressively defended contention of the letter was that the department does not have to handle significant crime. Chief Dan Kingsley said the department has to deal with the same sorts of crimes as Kenosha, it just does not have as many.

“Anything that happens in Kenosha can happen here,” said Kingsley, who asserted his officers are ready to handle such incidents. “I think our guys are the best there are.”

One vivid example was provided by Trustee Barbara Ironside, who read a commendation for Silver Lake officer Jon Meyer who recently worked a case of a teenager who allegedly sexually assaulted an infant. Her voice cracked with emotion as she read it.

“I’ll defend any of our guys any time,” Ironside said, adding that she was honored to be the chairman of the Village Board’s Police Committee.

“Some of these people are not aware of reality,” Kingsley said of people who think his department only handles petty crimes.

At one point, Trustee Chris Willkomm crumbled up his copy of the letter and tossed it away.

Trustee Sue Gerber pointed out such criticisms are always anonymous.

“I’ve never seen anyone sit in the audience and say this,” Gerber said.

Board members were confident that despite the letter, most residents support having the police department. Trustee Richard Maron said a referendum at one time was held on contracting for police services with the Sheriff’s Department and support for the village department was strong.

“I have respect for all police enforcement, but I don’t want the village to ever go the the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department,” said Engstrom.



  1. Researched and Informed says:

    Really???!!! 1 mph over huh? I drive in that town 30,40,50 times a week and I have never been pulled over for 1 mph over the posted limit. Nobody can take responsibilities for thier actions…you get pulled over for not obeying a law and it’s someone elses fault…lets get rid of the police because they enforce what is posted everywhere for all to see. Get a DUI and nope…I didnt weave the center line…they are profiling me…color of my car..age..height..weight…something. What were you doing drinking and driving in the first place. Nope…lets blame someone else because….YOU WERE CAUGHT!!!
    So you think contracting with the sheriffs department is a good idea? Have you ever looked at a contract and seen what it entails? They give you the promise of patrol during certain hours and nothing else..what about gas, overtime, ordinance violations, house checks, the squad is called out of thier area to assist in another call??? The sheriff is in control of his deputies per contract…not the board…not the voters…no one but him. So if you would like to see the deputy do something for your town and the sheriff says NO…well then to bad for everyone.
    I live in a town of salem….I would love to have our own police department. I maybe see the sheriffs department twice a month around here. If my family needs assistance…do you think I would like to wait 5 or 10 minutes for someone to arrive to help us?…..even 2 minutes could mean life or death in a situation..I would love to have assistance right around the corner. Who knows how far away that deputy is…or if he is assisting another out of the area.
    As for Peawaukee Police Department contracting with the sheriffs deparment..have you even looked into the reasons? Or is it just another…oh I heard it, so it sounds good to me too? Check out this article . It was not just to save money…the department was corrupt. It says it right in there…that was one of the reasons for contracting…They paid $300,000 in legal fees in one year in investigations.
    As for your grand daughter and her friends…REALLY???…no reason at all to be pulled over? They I’m sure like all kids did something…and of course don’t want to tell their elders. I know I thought I knew everything as a kid and I know I sure wasn’t running back to tell my elders why I was in trouble. Nope…it was Huh?..Not Me?…We wouldnt do That?.
    And contracting with the sheriffs department means no more officers on the water. Have you been on Silver Lake in the summer months? I have…..I grew up on that lake and still take my children back to enjoy it….It’s a mad house in the summer. No one to enforce the laws could get someone killed on that lake. There are so many boats and p.w.c’s on that lake in the summer…its like playing a dangerous game of ping pong. I encourage the presence of the officers…I would like my family to enjoy the day..and go home safe at night.
    Do you know how many folks are without jobs everywhere?…Really..disbanning a police department is going to make up for you not working?…or anyone for that fact? Everyone has the same woes…taxes…budgets..mouths to feed…bills to pay…what makes anyone different from another?
    As for the Obama reference…YES I do think the board knows more than the taxpayers…the board actually sees what crimes and things are happening in the town…versus the taxpayers…who only see $ signs for themselves. Have you ever gone and sat a day with a police officer and see what really goes on in that town?…or is it just about the fixed income and the taxes? Do you really know what some other familes are dealing with?…do you even care?
    Do you go to the board meetings and voice your concerns…and be part of the solution to things that you find not right? Or do you just send letters without a voice or face behind it and hope everythings just gets fixed the way you would like to see it….

  2. Restraint says:

    While it is true that giving a ticket per a village ordinance is just and right, regardless of its frivolity, it is also true that the Silver Lake Police have a reputation for over stepping their bounds. There are accusations of enterance on to private property without permission or probable cause, and other such violations of privacy. These have failed to be addressed, and this is not Hazzard, and the chief of police is not Boss Hog. Where is the repercussion for these injustices? I believe balance can be found. In reality, it may be simply a matter of ill-rapport with the community. Perhaps if the officers in Silver Lake went out of their way to develop a better rapport they would be viewed more as well intentioned neighbors, rather than lording overseers.

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