By Gail Peckler-Dziki

On a 6-1 decision, the Salem Lakes Village Board voted to suspend the Salem Public Safety department at its April 19 regular meeting.

The lone holdout was Village President Diann Tesar.

Salem Lakes Interim Administrator Pat Casey cautioned against the move, stating the suspension could hinder future efforts to resume operations, including the approaching water patrol season.

Village Trustee Mike Culat, who was recently elected, asked the board to place an item regarding the Salem Public Safety department on its agenda.

Culat cites the redundancy of protective services in the village as the primary concern, noting the former Village of Silver Lake disbanded its police force to contract with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department.

“We will be expanding the contract with the sheriff’s department and there is no need to have two police departments,” Culat said.

The former Town of Salem, which maintained the public safety department, reportedly had its public safety officers patrolling the area with squad cars from the former Silver Lake police department, which had the word “Police” emblazoned on the side.

Ignoring orders?
Despite repeated requests by former Salem Lakes Village President Bruce Nopenz, who asked officers to remove the word ‘police’ from the cars, those vehicles were used to conduct inspections of businesses that serve alcohol.

One bar owner, who requested anonymity, said in a separate interview that the inspection occurred on a weekend evening at the height of activity.

“No one wants to come into a place when there is a police car parked outside,” the owner said.

Casey, however, responded at the April 19 meeting, stating inspections were conducted through the regular methods.

But, some owners disagreed.

“I had to get a ladder to retrieve my license from the wall,” the owner said. “If the town issued it to me, why would they need to see it up close?”

Both Ted Kmiec and Dan Campion, two other recently elected village trustees, agreed and stated that they both heard numerous complaints regarding the Salem Public Safety department.

“During my five years on the board, I heard only complaints,” said Kmiec, who was a supervisor of the former Town of Salem.

With the suspension, some expressed concern about law enforcement protection in the village, but Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Marc Levin offered assurance to those in attendance at the meeting.

“We always have cars out in the county,” he said. “We patrol the entire Salem Lakes area.”


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