Freedom votes to disband police department

Published: Jul. 24, 2019 at 10:37 PM CDT
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There was a packed house for the Freedom town board meeting Wednesday night as the board voted to eliminate its local police force in favor of county patrols.

There was nearly two hours of debate and a number of tense exchanges between the board and the audience which continually disrupted the meeting.

Right now Freedom has two full-time officers and a part-time position.

Under Outagamie County's proposal, the town would receive two full-time officers. The school district would share the cost of one of those officers, which the town board says would save about $119,000 a year.

However, many people had concerns about giving up local control to the county.

"These guys do a great job, our county does. They do a wonderful job, but there's a reason why this town has its own police department, why it was created in the first place: because of the response time," Gerald Reiland of Freedom said.

"The county handles 75 percent of the calls that come in for the town. We are paying $225,000 for a department that handles 25 percent of the calls in this town. That doesn't make sense to me," town supervisor Brandon Conrad said.

The vote was 3-2. One town supervisor objected because he supported putting the issue to a referendum.

Right now Buchanan, Greenville and Combined Locks all have contracts with the county for law enforcement services.

Freedom's police chief was not at Wednesday night's meeting.

We're told the police department would dissolve once the county votes to accept the contract with Freedom. That vote is scheduled for August 13.