Sunday, December 4th, 2016

James Wigderson and his critics

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The “howdy, sheriff” edition:

Our friend Dad29 thinks I’m only half right, although I’m not sure which half he means.

I had a conversation today with a well-connected individual who related to me that many municipal police and fire departments were on a path toward absorption by other, larger departments.

In the case of law enforcement, small villages, townships–and even cities–are ceding LEO duties to County Sheriffs. The fire/rescue departments are on a similar path, but “county fire chiefs” do not exist (yet)–so instead, they are forming regional departments.

The North Shore fire department is one example, but look to the Oconomowoc/Lake Country Fire/Rescue brouhaha and you see another merger which WILL take place.

I get that, and I support such consolidation, including consolidation of 911 services.

However, in Milwaukee County every community is incorporated and already has an established police force. The area where consolidation most makes sense, the north shore, is also the area where it already has occurred without the assistance of the sheriff’s department. That makes an agency and an elected official in Milwaukee redundancies in search of other missions. Former Sheriff Lev Baldwin responded to the problem by making the deputies a revenue collection arm of Milwaukee County on the freeways. I don’t think any of us want to return to those days.

Given Clarke’s performance in office, I don’t see Oak Creek, Franklin and Hales Corners suddenly abandoning their police forces for sheriff deputies instead. I also don’t see Clarke proposing such consolidations.

Let the state patrol roam the freeways (consolidation!) and get rid of the sheriff’s department. Milwaukee County taxpayers would be better off without the extra layer of government inefficiency.

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