Western Wis. police department plans to move headquarters to school

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

Whitehall, Wis. (WEAU) --- A police department in Trempealeau County is moving its headquarters, to what they call a ‘unique’ location...the city high school.

The Whitehall City Administrator says the nearly century-old building that's a part of the city and is housing the Whitehall Police Department right now is going to be torn down.

Police Chief Jeff Schaffner says the department found a new location that will save the city some money, and he hopes will have a big impact on the community as a whole.

“It's a win-win situation, it's thinking outside the box,” says Whitehall City Administrator Tina Sass.

Sass says the police department is hoping to move just up the street, to Whitehall High School.

“That's probably one of the most often questions asked: will they have things here that shouldn’t be here; my answer is ‘no’, it’s simply an office,” said Whitehall Superintendent Mike Beighley.

The new building that will replace a part of the City Hall, built in 1919 will have room for the police evidence storage and the interview room.
Moving the office to the high school will save the city close to half of a million dollars in construction costs.

“The school is using our gym and we're looking at an agreement of no-money exchange; we not billing them for using the gym and they not billing us for housing the police department,” explained Sass.

Because of budgeting issues the Whitehall School District can't afford to have a safety liaison at the school. Beighley says housing four fulltime police officers will increase security at their K-12 school and kids will have an opportunity to build positive relationships with law enforcement.

“Understand that police officers are doing an important job and trying to make things better for all of us, I think that's the biggest value,” added Beighley.

The discussion about the move has been going on for about a year.
Now with a new addition being built at the high school that will house K-- 6th grade the district can finally commit to giving up their special-ed room for the officers.

Whitehall Police Chief Schaffner told WEAU 13 News that the department is on-board with the move and also see it as a positive development.

The decision is still pending Board of Education and City of Whitehall approval.

Sass says if the city police decide to move back to City Hall at some point, current building plans allow for the addition of the police office, if needed.

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