Salem clarifies police authority of public safety officers

The Salem Town Board approved a change to its public safety ordinance that clarified giving  its public safety officers authority to enforce state laws as well as town ordinances.

But while the action, which passed on a 4 to 1 vote, may have unified language in the ordinance , Sheriff David Beth said creating a de facto police force muddied the question of who  should be the first responding police agency in Salem.

The issue arose because the current public safety ordinance has conflicting language that in one place gives the public safety officers only authority to enforce town code and in another to enforce state laws.

The conflicting language was pointed out to town staff by assistant district attorney Richard Ginkowski, who attended the Town Board meeting Saturday.

He was concerned with the conflict because it could undermine prosecutions of state laws, Ginkowski said.

“The problem I have is the conflicting language … causes ambiguity,” Ginkowski said. “The whole picture is clear as mud.”

Perhaps further muddying the water was an issue raised by Sheriff David Beth, who also was in the audience Monday.

If Salem public safety officers are to have full police powers, then practice elsewhere in the county would suggest that Salem should be responding to police calls.

“Every other policing agency in this county is the first reponder to calls,” Beth said. “It’s not clear what’s going on here. I can see further discussion and this is something that needs to be discussed.”

But Salem’s intent is not to have a full functioning police department, said town administrator Patrick Casey. The department can’t receive radio calls from Kenosha County Joint Services dispatch, which handles 911 calls here.

In an apparent effort to clarify the issue, the board at the suggestion of town attorney after consulting with Ginkowski, unanimously passed an additional action stating that the board’s intent was to focus on code enforcement, traffic enforcement and water patrol on town lakes.

Chairman Linda Valentine said she will place the issue on next month’s agenda again.



  1. Dr. James Cross says:

    The following are my comments concerning the May 10, 2010 Salem Town Board meeting. My comments are in regard to events that took place after the Westofthei reporter left the meeting.

    I attended the above Salem Town Board meeting and was disgusted by the action of certain board members. The main event occurred when town resident Jim Valentine was placed on the agenda by his request to bring to the attention of the board some apparent discrepancies in the current town budget related to the first quarter expenditures. He called attention to an expenditure of approximately $42,623.00 which was not accounted for, i.e., there was no accounting for how this was spent, what the item or expense was. There was also the matter of going over budget for accounting and auditing. The budgeted amount was $10,000.00 for the entire year and the amount spent was $10,295.00 in the first quarter. This means that 103% of the year’s budget was spent in the first quarter leaving nothing for the remainder of 2010. The concern was whether this was satisfactory; were no further expenditures anticipated in this category for the rest of the year?. Is this a reasonable assumption? There were other items that Mr. Valentine raised, but he was interrupted several times by two board members. Supervisor Tesar yelled at Mr. Valentine such as who did he think he was telling the board what they should do, what were his qualifications to bring such things before the board and he had no standing with the Board as he was not a board member nor was he an employee of the town. Instead of listening to the problems he was concerned enough about as a taxpayer, with obviously enough of a background to be able to discern these problems, supervisor Tesar very harshly criticized Mr. Valentine for his astute observations. It was possible (likely?) from her behavior that supervisor Tesar did not on her own see these discrepancies and possibly felt an affront at having them brought to the Board’s attention.

    The other Board member who had an even worse display of loss of temper and control was supervisor O’Connell who yelled/screamed basically the same as supervisor Tesar, swore at the town chairman and actually stormed out of the meeting, later explaining his departure as “having to go to the bathroom”. When you gotta go, you gotta go – I suppose. Temper tantrums such as these have no place in a setting such as this; a barroom, ok, but not as a representative of the town in a public setting. This was an embarrassing display.

    Supervisor Tesar shows disdain for the public she is supposed to represent. She should have taken Mr. Valentine’s information for what it was: bringing to the Board’s attention some discrepancies that, if true, must be addressed. At best, if true, these are some errors or oversights that need to be dealt with to correct the problems and avoid repeating. At worst, something may be illegal with legal ramifications. It seems that supervisor Tesar should have thanked Mr. Valentine for taking the time to review the information and report his concerns to the Board. This action on her part would have shown her command of the situation and give the impression she was capable of looking into these problems and acting appropriately. Her behavior of arrogance and attempt at belittlement should not be condoned and never repeated. No town resident should be subjected to her type of rant.

    Supervisor O’Connell’s behavior is simply inexcusable. If he cannot control himself any better than this, he should just resign. His display of anger, rage and loss of control should be below that of someone who purports to represent the Town of Salem.

    In the least , an apology is in order from each of these board members. As Mr. John Roberts addressed the Board during this outburst, “You must learn to play nice.”

    Dr. James Cross

  2. Dr. Brad Smith says:

    I also attended the Salem Town Board meeting last Monday night. I can verify Dr. Cross’ detailed account of what transpired when citizen Jim Valentine presented his research on the status of the Town’s budget.

    According to Mr. Valentine, there are a number of discrepancies that all prudent citizens should be concerned with. The Town’s non-resident Town Administrator should clarify whether Salem is now off budget, or if these alleged discrepancies are merely data entry mistakes.

    My first concern is that if the Town of Salem is already off budget, then that will mean that we will have a significant deficit by the end of the fiscal year.

    Which, needless to say, will inevitably mean HIGHER taxes for all affected property tax payers.

    My second concern is the ARROGANT and RUDE demeanor of those board members who attacked Mr. Valentine– who had been properly and legally placed on the agenda. NOTE WELL: HAD HIS PLACEMENT ON LAST MONDAY NIGHT’S AGENDA BEEN ILLEGAL, THE TOWN ATTORNEY WOULD HAVE MOST EMPHATICALLY CLARIFIED THAT.

    Diann Tesar and Pat O’Connell were the most vicious offenders in their collective attacks on citizen Valentine and his wife, Town Chairman Valentine.
    I find it especially offensive that Diann Tesar, WHO TO THIS DATE HAS FAILED TO CLARIFY IN BLACK AND WHITE WHETHER SHE SUPPORTED LAST YEAR’S FAILED SALEM GRADE SCHOOL REFERENDUM, should viciously attack a citizen whose detailed research clearly suggests that the Town Administrator that she hired as former chairman is already deviating from the Town’s own budget!

    When Chairman Valentine encouraged citizen input by publicizing the budget workshops, I could only make it to a few meetings myself. I recall seeing Dennis Faber, Jo Weidman and Joe Meier there. I did not see Diann Tesar there or Pat O’Connell. Perhaps they participated when I wasn’t there. Did they attend any of the budget workshops?

    Could it be that Tesar and O’Connell were so ignorant of the Town’s budget details that they were embarassed by Jim Valentine’s thorough critique of this very important guideline?

    These people voted for this budget. They clearly don’t want public scrutiny of how this budget is being followed or complied with. It would appear to me that they are assuming “ownership” therefore of their alleged budget. INASMUCH AS THIS APPEARS TO BE THE CASE, THEN EACH OF THOSE BOARD MEMBERS WHO ATTACKED MR. VALENTINE’S EFFORTS FOR TRANSPARENCY AND CLARIFICATION SHOULD PERSONALLY GUARANTEE ANY DEFICITS THAT THE TOWN MAY INURE BECAUSE OF THE TOWN ADMINISTRATOR’S ALLEGED FAILURE TO STAY WITHIN OUR BUDGET!

    On the contrary, they should welcome citizen input into the Town’s fiscal affairs– especially in today’s economy.

    Third, I am concerned that NONE of our local tax bodies have passed advisory
    declarations demanding that “our” federal government now puts America First!

    A recent Pew Research poll indicates that 80% of the American people no longer trust their government. More and more people agree with my concerns than ever before. There was certainly a time when my pronouncements would have earned me the label of a “xenophobe”.

    However, we need MORAL LEADERSHIP from all of our area tax bodies. Our Nation’s national problems are in effect local issues as well. Most people agree with me that our socioeconomic problems are from the top down. The solution is from “We, The People”; from Main Street America. If every tax body in Wisconsin, and throughout America, demanded that our federal legislators PUT AMERICA FIRST, then we wouldn’t have these caustic debates at the local level. We would have our infrastructure needs properly addressed and no educational opportunities would be impaired for a lack of funding.

    Fourth, I am not sure that anyone involved in our various local tax bodies fully appreciates the dire state of our local, state and national economy.

    There really are alternatives to putting the people into unbearable debt. However, a board that condemns anyone who has the courage to dissect their financial meanderings has no interest in hearing viable solutions.

    Thank you.

    Brad Smith, D.C.

  3. UnknownFarmer says:

    To Doc Slander and Doc Crossed Up

    What does your comments have to do with the main subject of this post?
    Where did Jim Valentine get his information? From his Blundering Wife? Or did he waste more of the Town’s money by detaining employee’s for hours on end asking questions that he does not understand?

    So since you boys bring your garbage from Making Salem Worse Website. Perhaps you can find out how much it is going to cost the Town for the Slander Suit that is under way filed twords Linda Valentine.

    Perhaps your web site can pay for this as well a pay back the town for the Town Lawyer fees that were encountered for the Wisconsin Attorney Generals investigation.

    The Town should Recall Valentine’s right now as far as I am concerned.

  • Follow us on

  • Archives