RIPON POLICE OFFICERS temporarily blockade a segment of Vermont Street last spring as they participate in a drug investigation involving several Ripon homes. 											       Tim Lyke photo
RIPON POLICE OFFICERS temporarily blockade a segment of Vermont Street last spring as they participate in a drug investigation involving several Ripon homes. Tim Lyke photo

    ... The union representing Ripon police officers last month included in their initial bargaining proposal for a contract that expired two weeks ago a request that the 15-mile radius restriction be lifted. This means Ripon’s men and women in blue would not need to live anywhere near the community they have sworn to protect and serve.   

     The requested provision may survive negotiations with city officials (we’ll know next week when the Common Council publicly ratifies the agreement) as the current 15-mile state-sanctioned restriction already has tied the hands of Ripon’s ability to summon officers for immediate help in the case of a weather, traffic, fire, criminal or terrorist incident that would require all hands on deck.

     Admittedly, these are rare. But when they occur, they are huge. And often they happen with little to no notice: a tornado damages Ripon’s west side, a downtown building ignites in the early a.m., heavy rains threaten an overflowing Silver Creek.

     That’s why a city of Ripon ordinance, before state legislators buried it with their 2013 law, required police officers to live within three miles of city limits.

     Future emergencies requiring massive manpower from Ripon’s 14 police officers likely will be some sort of domestic or drug-related incidents requiring SWAT capabilities, traffic control and neighborhood evacuation.

     Local police departments’ personnel needs may be supplemented by mutual aid — law enforcement from Fond du Lac and Green Lake counties — but any police or fire chief, or EMT director, will note that response-time and familiarity with local policies and procedures literally can save lives and minimize property damage, as well as assure that emergency personnel have a vested interest in the community they serve.

     But the state knows better.

     And so soon our police may be able to work here while living in Appleton, Sheboygan or Beaver Dam.
                                     — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Jan. 19, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.