Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Village Buzz - August 17th...

Fire Department, Germantown, Police, Quality of Life, Taxes, Village Buzz

Citizen Observer Program: Initial Observations...

I have always thought that 'someday' I'd love to be able to spend a little time with a police officer during duty hours.  That seemed like a good way to gather information about how they function, what they encounter, and about our community.

Well, the Citizen Observer role was mine during the period from 6:00PM on Saturday through 2:00AM on Sunday.  I was assigned to one of the officers who would be out and about.  I would love to name the officer, but they are a team and I would only be able, in that manner, to call out a single person.  This team is composed of those who handle incoming calls and dispatch officers to situations.  It involves the leadership team in place for every shift; they are sometimes seen at various locations and other times are largely behind the scenes.  It involves those officers who walk into the situation having to be prepared for any eventuality.  And, it involves the support people back in the headquarters location.

My intent is to do a series of Village Buzz editions that discuss our public safety arena.  I will tell you up front that I am a solid booster for Chief Pete Hoell and his team.  They do a lot that most of us never know about, but those are the things that need to be taken care of to give us the peace of mind we enjoy in our community.  They are the reason I can go to bed each night without worrying about my safety and that of my loved ones.

Our 'tour of duty' involved young cyclists being praised for wearing their helmets while being reminded to always ride on the side of the roadway.  That earned them a couple of free McDonald's cones and probably a little higher heart rate than they'd had just before their encounter.  I saw a very compassionate and caring officer who was thinking about them, about the reputation of the force and about the community.

A pizza delivery person enjoyed a little break while he learned that one of his headlights was out.  Two young people were in a vehicle that had 'blacked out' windows which were beyond the permissible level.  One of them proved to have been consuming alcohol while under the legal age.  Another call involved an auto accident that, thankfully, didn't seem to result in serious injury although the fire department EMT team succeeded in having the young female driver taken to Community Memorial just to be sure there were no concealed problems of which she was unaware.

Interestingly enough, that call actually occupied every available squad, a fire engine and an ambulance.  We were critically short of response capability during that episode.  Had a fire, ambulance or accident call (or combination) hit during that period, the overall response would have been challenging to say the least.  These are things we don't think much about except when village budget time rolls around and we try to find ways to cut costs.  Or when we are the ones waiting for help.  Some cuts hit muscle and not fat.

The things mentioned above occurred in the first hour of my full shift 'ride along'.  As I was reminded, this was way before the closing time for bars and taverns when the police and fire team often finds itself very gainfully employed.

My overall initial observations were these:  Our police department is operating in a lean manner.  It has space issues even with the old library building having been in use for some time.  We need to find a way to accommodate more space at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.  The patrol force has not been expanded in numbers for years even though our population has been increasing on a regular basis.  Paper work still is a signifcant time consumer even with computers, etc.  An upgrade to the current system hoped to be accomplished in the next year will see printers in each squad to eliminate the actual hand writing of every ticket.  (And no, there isn't a 'quota' of tickets for the officer.  That is against the law.)  Morale appears to be very high; the team seems quite functional while permitting some individual flexibility in how the officer pursues his or her shift.  This strikes me as a professional unit and that comes from the top all the way down the depth chart.

I feel proud of them as a citizen and taxpayer.

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