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Minocqua Looking To Fill Vacant Police Position

Minocqua Police website

MINOCQUA – Minocqua Police Chief David Jaeger currently has two candidates interested in applying for the detective sergeant position left vacant when Detective Sergeant Matthew Tate resigned to join the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department.

The police chief gave an update to the town board Tuesday, noting that the application deadline is August 7. One candidate, who has expressed interest but not yet committed, is currently with the Minocqua department while the other is from another agency.

Supervisor and investigative experience is preferred, according to the job description. “Next year we’re going to get extremely young,” he said. He’s expecting two, possibly three, resignations due to retirements. That’s another reason he’s looking for an experienced officer for the detective sergeant position. “It would be nice to get somebody in to help train those (new) individuals” who will be coming on board.

The detective sergeant is the third in command of the department and responsible for oversight of investigations and supervision of subordinates. The detective sergeant also fills patrol shifts on occasion. Jaeger said his department spends upwards of 80 hours doing background checks on an applicant, in addition to requiring a psychological examination, written examination and interviews.

“I think we put a pretty solid hiring practice in place to make sure that we’re bringing in the right people. And I think it shows with the officers that we have on the department.” Tate was also Minocqua’s K9 handler, a role he will have in the future at the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department. The town board at its last meeting agreed to sell the K9 to that agency for $3.000. Jaeger has said for now he isn’t planning to ask the town board to authorize restart the K9 program.

With an eye on those expected resignations next year, Jaeger warned the board that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants, even those fresh out of law enforcement school. “In law enforcement right now, it’s impossible to find anybody who wants to do the position,” he said. “You go to any agency right now, that’s the number one concern in law enforcement – finding applicants. Just to apply for the job, much less (get) experienced applicants.” Officers are getting “burnt out” from the job, and it doesn’t help with the current public outcry targeting police departments across the nation, he said.

One might be thinking that officers from metropolitan areas would jump at the chance to come on board in a rural setting, especially an area like Minocqua renown for its natural resources and relatively laid back lifestyle. Jaeger said, however, he’s hesitant to bring on a veteran officer for a beginning officer position. “You get somebody that has 20, 25 years of experience (but) you have them for two or three years. So is that the ideal candidate?” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t think so. You want somebody that’s going to be around for several years, if not a decade. I want the best candidate for the position that’s going to give this department the longest longevity that we expect.” Police in larger jurisdictions also have a different mindset in many cases, he said, and their training sometimes doesn’t work in small communities such as Minocqua. “There’s a lot of reprogramming if they were trained in a certain way,” he said.

On a more positive hiring note, the chief said Minocqua is “pretty competitive when it comes to salary and benefits” that are provided police officers. Also, an outside hire with substantial police work is automatically placed at the five-year pay scale classification, eligible for vacation and paid time off at that rate.

The chief also made it known that’s he’s committed to another year as police chief. After that, he said, “it’s year-to-year depending on circumstances” as far as a decision to leave the force. He turns 50 years old next year. Law enforcement officers can retire and collect their pension at age 50 in Wisconsin.

In a related departmental matter, town chairman Mark Hartzheim said the board would take up the matter of reshuffling the dispatch center’ staffing at the board’s next meeting. Supervisor John Thompson wants to in on that discussion but was unable to make Tuesday’s meeting.

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