Rock County Board approves $225,000 for sheriff's office

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Catherine W. Idzerda
August 14, 2015

JANESVILLE—Crime doesn't recognize municipal boundary lines.

Neither, apparently, does the cost of fighting crime.

On Thursday, the Rock County Board unanimously approved giving the Rock County Sheriff's Office an additional $225,000 to help pay for its operations in the city of Beloit.

Most supervisors had nothing but praise for the sheriff's efforts in Beloit, but a few had questions about how much longer the additional support would be needed.

For 20 weeks between Feb. 27 and July 17, the sheriff's office used 5,587 hours of labor in the city of Beloit. That amounts to about seven additional full-time officers each week.

The additional help was part of the Stop the Violence Initiative, a joint effort between the City of Beloit Police Department and the sheriff's office to “reduce overall crime, citizen fear and suppress violent crime."

Deputies targeted two areas of the city. During that interval they made 2,273 traffic stops and arrested 288 individuals on warrants, had 26 probation holds and made 150 new arrests.

They also spent a significant amount of time getting to know local residents, Sheriff Robert Spoden said in an interview before the meeting.

“We didn't want to come across as an occupying force,” Spoden said. “Deputies got out of their cars, they interacted with citizens, and they listened to concerns.”

Shots-fired calls decreased 31 percent after the extra patrols were added, according to a report of the sheriff's office.

Spoden stressed that although the city of Beloit had its own police force, state statutes charge the sheriff's office with “ensuring peace and order throughout the county.”

Spoden likened it to providing mutual aid.

Supervisor Rick Richard said he was sure the operations in Beloit benefited all of Rock County.

The Beloit Police Department is currently under review by outside agencies. Police Chief Norm Jacobs and Deputy Chief Tom Dunkin were both placed on administrative leave after a consultant found serious management issues.

If it turned out the problem was “a mismanagement of resources,” at what point would the county present the city with a “token bill” for its services, Richard asked.

Spoden he didn't want to speculate on the outcome of the review.

“At the end of the day, it's my responsibility to make sure all the citizens are safe,” Spoden said.

Supervisor Rich Bostwick asked the sheriff at what point would he consider the initiative a success and when an end date might be.

Spoden said he didn't want to give out an end date to protect the operation, and added that “we're always going to have an increased presence” in Beloit.

Supervisor Greg Addie said he thought sheriff's office had “spent the right money at the right time.”

“If you continue, it will only drain away resources at the county level,” Addie said. “We only get a half a percent increase (in funding) from the state and that's not much.”


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