Shared police working well for EL, HG

WHEN NEIGHBORS SHARE SOMETHING, it can sometimes prove to be a challenge.

Ideally, though, it works out for the best for both parties involved.

The latter seems to be the case for the villages of Elkhart Lake and Howards Grove.

The two villages are in the first year of a three-year agreement for the Elkhart Lake Police Department to provide contracted patrol services on a part-time basis 10 miles to the east in the village of Howards Grove.

Elkhart Lake Police Chief Michael Meeusen reported on the first few months of that contracted service in his annual report to the Village Board earlier this month and the report was positive.

“It’s been going pretty well,” Meeusen said of the shared police and court services. “We’re definitely making an impact (in Howards Grove). We’re getting more phone calls.”

The shared service grew out of dissatisfaction on the part of Howards Grove officials several years ago with the enforcement services they were receiving through a contract with the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department – a contract the village eventually terminated.

The alternative of relying on elected or appointed constables for enforcement in the county’s largest village was unacceptable, but the cost of establishing a police department from scratch was too costly to consider.

As a result, Howards Grove turned to Elkhart Lake, with a long-established police department and municipal court, to provide law enforcement services in the village.

It took some negotiations, stops and starts, and a trial run before the two villages agreed on a system that has a part-time Elkhart Lake officer patrolling in Howards Grove roughly 10 hours a week, utilizing a patrol car provided by Howards Grove.

Howards Grove joined the Elkhart Lake

Municipal Court – renamed the Northern

Moraine Municipal Court – which provided the village with an income stream to help pay for the contracted services.

Thus far, Meeusen reported, both villages are seeing many positives from the shared police service – and not just financially.

Howards Grove is enjoying a level of dedicated law enforcement patrol service it never has before, making the village and its residents safer and more secure.

The police presence has been so effective and positive that Howards Grove School District officials have said they would like to expand the shared service to include a police presence in district schools – something that, in today’s world, would be a welcome addition for the village and especially for parents, children and school staff.

Of course, any such expansion of the shared service will have to be negotiated by officials from the two villages, but the experience thus far shows that such an agreement should be possible.

The Elkhart Lake Police Department has provided first-class professional law enforcement and protection for the resort village for decades and now their neighbors to the east on County A are sharing in and enjoying that service as well.

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