ARCADIA, Wis. (PRESS RELEASE) -- The Arcadia Professional Police Association stated Tuesday that members of the Arcadia City Council intend to hold a vote during the council meeting on Thursday, August 29, 2013 to disband the city police department.
“The Arcadia City Council has been threatening to disband the police department ever since the officers formed a union in 2003,” stated APPA president Dale Marsolek. “We are taking this threat seriously because one of the city aldermen told one of our officers the council intends to put the matter up for a vote at the Thursday meeting, stating they had four votes in favor of disbanding the department.”
State law requires that any municipality large enough to be classified as a city must have a police department. “The council believes that they can have the city policed by the county Sheriff’s Department, but that is incorrect. What concerns us is that the city has previously passed resolutions contrary to its contract with the union, and simply waited for the union to file a grievance, which is followed by protracted and unnecessary litigation at taxpayer expense. Although this resolution would be contrary to State law, it would not be surprising for the council to pass a resolution to disband the police department and worry about the consequences later. While the matter would be litigated, public safety will be at great risk and tax dollars will be wasted” Marsolek said. The City funded the police department in its 2013 budget for five full time officers and the department currently employs only three full time officers,
Regardless of the underlying reason for the resolution, Marsolek said the APPA is most concerned with the effect such a move would have on public safety. The city is home to 2,925 residents, but with employers such as Ashley Furniture and Gold ‘n Plump Poultry, the population of the City is often much higher, which translates into increased traffic, property damage, theft and domestic disturbances occurring at the rate of more populated areas. As Marsolek stated, “If this City loses its police department while this matter is litigated, the citizens will suffer from long response times for dire emergencies, and loss of a 24 hour police presence in the community. Minor traffic accidents, school traffic direction, theft reports, missing children complaints, noise complaints, traffic enforcement, and other minor reports will simply not be taken by anyone without a local police department. Everyone would lose.”
When we asked John Kimmel, the Mayor of Arcadia, to comment, he sent us this statement:
“The City of Arcadia Common Council does not have any legislation or resolution that would do what the Police Association’s press release states (“disband the city police department”), especially at a meeting that is not nor has ever been scheduled for Thursday, August 29, 2013 as stated. I’m not sure what their goal of misdirecting from fact is, if it is a contract negotiating tactic or what, but trying to strike fear into our community is reckless, and that’s troubling as the Mayor, and also as a community member that calls Arcadia home.
I have provided the agenda for an actual meeting for Wednesday August 28, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. in accordance with the Open Meeting’s requirements, and also to the media for their viewing and use where there is no such pending action.
Our shared vision is to have a safe community where people can feel confident in the services that we provide, that their families and homes and businesses are safe from crime, and that they may prosper and enjoy a high standard of living.
A further shared community vision is that of each municipal employee discharging their duties in a professional manner, consistent with the sacred trust that the public places with them. Press releases with few or no facts that cause false alarm is not only counter-productive, but reckless and dangerous to our desire for public safety. In a time when most municipals are facing major cuts in shared revenue and other income streams, levy limits, and other limitations, we are forced to do more with less and as a community leader, I do just that and continue to provide the services that our community desires.
I am confident that we have provided above adequate police protection in our community. While the association’s release refers to the number of FT police officers, what it fails to truthfully state is that we currently employ enough police officers to provide the 24 hour coverage that Arcadia has had for many many years.
I look forward to sitting down with the union representatives for our actual union contract renegotiation. The City has no desire to engage in contract negotiations via press releases to news outlets. As we progress through these negotiations, I expect our officers to continue to protect our community as they have in the past around the clock, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.”