Liaison officer would be welcome addition in HG

THE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE villages of Howards Grove and Elkhart Lake for police service in Howards Grove could soon be expanded – for a good purpose.

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.

Under the contract, an Elkhart Lake officer patrols roughly 10 hours a week in Howards Grove, using a patrol car provided by Howards Grove.

So far, the agreement has been beneficial to both municipalities.

Howards Grove, which does not have a police department of its own, is enjoying a level of dedicated law enforcement patrol service it never has before, making the village and its residents safer and more secure. In the past the village relied either on part-time elected constables or contracted service from the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department – neither of which proved satisfactory to village officials or residents.

Howards Grove is also participating in the village of Elkhart Lake’s municipal court, which means the village is realizing additional revenue from fines and costs paid for violations in the village, money which previously went mostly to Sheboygan County.

Elkhart Lake, meanwhile, has realized an additional source of revenue for its police department for the service it is providing in Howards Grove.

The Howards Grove patrols have been so effective that the Howards Grove School District has taken notice.

The district currently has no police presence in its facilities, as the village does not have its own law enforcement department.

But school officials would like to take advantage of a school liaison officer program that has proven extremely successful in many other local districts, including Elkhart Lake.

Howards Grove School Superintendent

Chris Peterson updated the School Board this month on a proposal to add a liaison officer in Howards Grove schools to the patrol program with the Elkhart Lake Police Department.

He has proposed that the patrol be increased by an additional 20 hours a week, with the added hours spent in the public and private schools in the village. The cost, he said, could be borne by the schools.

“It would be a huge value,” Peterson said of adding school liaison officer service to the patrol contract with the Elkhart Lake Police Department.

He emphasized that it would add much more value to the district’s educational program beyond just the security aspect. A liaison officer could help with safety drills and emergencies, truancies and other issues, education and good community relations.

The school liaison officer program has been highly beneficial in other school districts, both in Sheboygan County and across the nation.

Howards Grove students, the school district and the community deserve to share in those benefits as well. School and village officials should do all they can to make a liaison officer a reality in the Howards Grove schools.

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