Village of Hobart votes to keep its police department

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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HOBART, Wis. (WBAY) - The village of Hobart voted Tuesday night to not merge its police department with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, drawing applause by those in attendance.

The vote was 3 to 2 with trustees Ed Kazik and Debbie Schumacher voting nay on the motion to keep its police force intact. Village trustees will now explore building a police station with initial estimates shared at the meeting putting that figure at $5 million.

Over the last five to six months, the village of Hobart has been looking at the idea of having the the sheriff’s department absorb its law enforcement agency.

It would be similar to what five other municipalities in the county have done, such as the villages of Suamico and Bellevue. Hobart shares its police department with the town of Lawrence, although Hobart covers two-third of the costs.

Two trustees, Kazik and Schumacher, first initiated the discussions on replacing its officers hoping to tap into the sheriff’s department resources since Hobart is one of the fastest growing communities in the state.

Yet as we have previously reported, this has drawn backlash from officers who say their jobs aren’t 100 percent guaranteed if the merger were to happen.

“These officers haven’t done anything wrong. We go with Brown County we get a lot more tools in our toolbox that they can use. That we’d be paying the same price,” Kazik said at Tuesday’s meeting defending his decision.

Village President Richard Heidel was one of the three trustees who voted in favor of keeping the police department as is, and he said Hobart has to move on for the sake of the morale of officers and instead invest in its agency.

“Going with the county sheriff, again no disrespect to him, but he’s an elected official. He’s a politician at the end of the day, and I don’t want to hold the public safety of this village hostage to an elected official. It’s bad enough that you guys gotta contend with us,” Heidel said.

Trustees Tim Carpenter and Dave Dillenburg were the other two trustees who voted with Heidel.

There’s no concrete date yet on when construction on a new police headquarters will start. Nonetheless, village trustees said the costs will be shared with the town of Lawrence.

In the meantime, Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said they expect to break ground on a new fire department in the next 12 months.

Last week, Kramer was accused of being party to forging a document, a misdemeanor, in order to replace a municipal judge.

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