Today, County Executive Samantha Kerkman hosted the seven local law enforcement leaders to her office for lunch and conversation. Present were KPD Chief Patrick Patton, Sheriff David W. Zoerner, State Police Captain Brad Ocain, Pleasant Prairie Police Chief David Smetana, UW-Parkside Police Chief James Heller, Twin Lakes Police Chief Adam Grosz, and Carthage College Director of Public Safety Mike Polzin.
This was the inaugural event organized by Kerkman to bring the county’s law enforcement leaders all to the same table – literally. Among the discussions were opioids, human trafficking, and emergency management.
The two biggest departments in Kenosha County, the Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department, have new, young leaders. Both seem determined to implement proactive law enforcement policies. They both are friends to transparency. Recently, both Chief Patton and Sheriff Zoerner have agreed to change the way their agencies share law enforcement data with the media. Available now to local media, elected leaders, and law enforcement are daily emails. These emails contain spreadsheets of the calls for service for the day prior. That means the raw data is being shared, making it easier for elected officials and the media to locate, request, and disseminate law enforcement data to the public.
The Pleasant Prairie Police department is also very transparent to the media. Even with a smaller law enforcement support staff, they get records out quickly.
“[We talked] about the issues that are impacting each one of our jurisdictions.” said Kerkman. “[We are] really looking for areas of collaboration….You can drive down highway 50 and go through three law enforcement jurisdictions.” Kerkman announced the creation of a new county position called the Prevention Specialist. Right now, the county is in the beginning stages of creating this position. This position will be funded by the opioid lawsuit settlement and is meant to help fight the opioid crisis. It involves early education using a curriculum.
The goal of this multijurisdictional discussion was to strengthen relationships, to encourage collaboration on areas where agencies might work better to serve Kenosha County, and to discuss needs ahead of the state and local budget cycles.