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Officers upset with Village of Hobart’s proposal to merge agency

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2021 at 11:06 PM CDT
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HOBART, Wis. (WBAY) - Several police officers spoke up during a meeting Tuesday night at the village of Hobart against a proposal to fold the department with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.

Hobart-Lawrence Police Chief Randy Bani even accused a village official of trying to defund the police.

The meeting room was crowded with a sea of blue as police officers defended their jobs.

“Sure as heck feels like I did not provide the services that this community deserves. It sure as heck feels like I’m being backed into the corner trying to find my way out, for what reason? I don’t know. So I’m sorry if I’m a little hot right now. I’m sorry I’m a little upset,” Hobart-Lawrence Police Officer Sam Schroeder said.

On Tuesday’s agenda was a proposal to merge the police department with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, and it would be similar to agreements the agency has with the villages of Bellevue and Denmark.

The purpose, according to the two trustees who introduced the measure, was to save the village money in the long term and to expand the police department’s toolbox.

“It would just give us more back up and more detail in our law enforcement that’s it,” Trustee Ed Kazik, a supporter of the proposal, said. “These gentleman and ladies haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just that we want to broaden our horizon.”

Yet, citizens at the meeting said they’re willing to pay for their own police.

“There’s pros and cons and money isn’t everything. I’m willing to pay extra taxes to keep these people,” a woman named Linda said.

Chief Bani accused trustee Debbie Schumacher, who along with Kazik supports the plan, of defunding the police.

“Every officer of this department, including myself, opposes this Brown County proposal. I for one am tired of Debbie’s attacks on myself personally and I believe in my opinion that this is bordering on harassment,” Bani said.

According to officers who spoke, morale has tanked since the proposal was introduced at the previous village meeting three weeks ago.

A main point of contention among the Hobart-Lawrence Police officers is that they aren’t guaranteed a job with the sheriff’s office if the merger was to happen.

The village of Hobart board of trustees plans to vote on this proposal on September 7th.

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