Close vote allows community service officers to issue tickets
JUNEAU -- The Dodge County Board of Supervisors narrowly passed an ordinance allowing community service officers employed by the sheriff’s office to issue citations for minor violations.
Supervisors voted 17-16 Tuesday on an ordinance brought to them by the Dodge County Judicial and Public Protection Committee.
Before its approval, county board members debated the highly contested issue before them.
“The concern I have with this ordinance is the different styles of tickets the community service officers are going to be confronting. Some tickets are going to be easier to give than others,” said Supervisor Jeff Berres. “Some of the people writing these tickets need to have the training in case one of the individuals who receives the ticket flips out.”
Judicial and Public Protection Committee member Dan Hilbert said he shared the same concern as Berres but reminded the county board the sheriff has a policy defining the community service officer’s responsibilities.
Judicial and Public Protection Committee Chairwoman MaryAnn Miller said community service officers will ticket individuals on civil matters and not on criminal ones.
“That should be incorporated in what we’re voting on tonight,” Berres said. “It’s like going to the bank and a guy comes in to borrow money and then someone comes along and says, ‘I’ll tell you what the interest rate is after you sign the papers.’ We’re open ended on the tail end of this.”
Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said Tuesday the patrol sergeants train the community service officers and there is adequate supervision for the community service officers who are required to be 18 years or older.
Schmidt told the Daily Times Friday morning he currently has two community service officers but is authorized to have three of them.
The community service officer program allows the sheriff’s office to hire young men and women on a part-time basis whose goal is to become a full-time patrol deputy in the future. Schmidt said some of the community service officers have come from Dodge County Law Enforcement Explorer Post.
The community service officers are given responsibilities that in the past have normally been done by full-time patrol deputies but could be done by civilian staff instead. Some of those things include traffic control and direction, handling of minor complaints such as animal bites, parking violations, abandoned vehicles and property. This will allow sheriff’s deputies to focus more on tasks such as investigation of criminal matters, traffic enforcement and crash reduction that can be addressed by someone with their training and qualifications.
Schmidt said the community service officer position is a part-time position with a part-time wage associated with it. He has $30,000 allotted for the community service officers.