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Vilas County Sheriff Frustrated Over 911 Hang-Ups


Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath and his staff provide an update on department activities each month to the Vilas County Law Enforcement Committed with details on crime reports, jail operations, management, communications, and more.

Up until April 1 of this year the Sheriff’s department has handled 2,095 incidents over the 15 Vilas county municipalities plus adjacent counties and even the Upper Peninsula.

Sheriff Fath indicated one of the most frustrating situations for his staff are 911 telephone hang-ups of which there were 164 in the last reporting period.

“On every 911 hang-up we have to send a deputy to see if everything is ok and if the call was a mistake,” Sheriff Fath said. “With cell phones in back pockets we tend to have more of these and it takes away from our regular duties.”

911 hang up’s varied across the county with zero in Presque Isle and one in Winchester to 43 in Lac du Flambeau and 26 in Eagle River. Arbor Vitae had 22, Boulder Junction 7, Cloverland 4, Conover 5, Lincoln 11, Land O’ Lakes 7, Manitowish Waters 10, Phelps 8, Plum Lake 3, St. Germain 6, and Washington 11.

Chairman Jerry Burkett thanked the Sheriff Fath and his staff for the excellent job they are doing.

“They are here to protect and serve and we have had no riots, no disturbances, only sworn peace officers here to  help all of us,” Burkett said. “We do have a small problem obtaining and retaining good help but they are our greatest assets. I’m very proud of the Sheriff’s department in our war on drugs which are increasing in our county.”

Burkett asked Vilas County corporation counsel Jack Albert if he ever received a reply to “our inquiry to the state regarding suspension of drivers licenses from released jail inmates who fail to make jail payments” with Albert indicating he has not.

Burkett then directed Albert to send another letter to the state “and put my telephone number in the letter as the person to contact.”  Burkett indicated “I can take a no, but I can’t take being ignored.”

Burkett felt all those who owe the county money can keep or get back a suspended driver’s license by just establishing a very modest repayment plan. County inmates are charged $17 dollars a day.

In other reports, emergency government director Sherri Congleton felt all youth camps in the county are expected to be operational this summer but some many have reduced capacity.  Communications director Lt. Dale Soltow indicated he has left road operations and returned to run the dispatch center until national guard call up is completed in the fall. There are two position openings in the dispatch center.

Finally, the committee is scheduled to take a tour of the jail at their regular June 28 meeting.

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