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Roberts discusses court interaction

The big discussion at the Roberts Village Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 14, was police and court interaction.

Roberts Police Chief Dan Burgess submitted a revision to the police department's policy manual that suggested the police chief had the authority to alter reports should the original officer not be available.

"There may be an instance when a report is typed up late at night and an officer omits 'not' and that changes the whole thing," explained Burgess. "These are the types of things that we need to be able to do when under the gun."

Burgess also suggested that the pre-trial consultation be eliminated, saying that the citation was issued and the village should stand behind its officers.

"When a citation is given, the next branch up thinks we are like cowboys out there slinging tickets when it is actually a carefully-chosen process," Burgess said. "The citation, when issued, is the officer's decision. The finger has been pointed. It's the village's job to prosecute the citation."

"Every person that is ticketed has a right to defense," countered William Moeri, village president. "You are not automatically guilty because you are ticketed."

Bill Rodosovich, village attorney, argued that the pre-trial consultation is important because it allows the defendants to tell their side of the story.

"It's worked quite successfully in sorting those cases that need to be tried," said Rodosovich. "It's a chance for someone representing the village to sit down and tell them why (things are being enforced)."

Burgess countered that he wanted more communication between the court and the police department, particularly when the court decides to dismiss a citation.

"A citation should not be dismissed without some dialog with the issuing officer," he said. "Is there something wrong with our reporting process? We want feedback."

Rodosovich, Burgess and the board had a lengthy discussion about the separation of making the rules (village board), enforcing the rules (police department) and prosecuting of the rules (municipal court).

Moeri ultimately asked Rodosovich if he would be willing to communicate with the police department regarding citation outcomes in court.

"Absolutely," answered Rodosovich.

"If Bill (Rodosovich) says that we'll have that communication, I believe him," replied Burgess. "We can throw this (the suggested revisions) out."

The board decided to table the police policy manual revisions until Burgess and Rodosovich have a chance to make further alterations.

In other news:

• A representative from Friends of St. Croix County gave a presentation to the board advocating support for the county-owned nursing home. He asked the board to write a letter of support for any future dealings with the county board regarding the facility. The board agreed to discuss it as an agenda item for next month's meeting.

• Chuck Pizzi, park board member, reported that the park board put vinyl covering on all the bleachers, benches and picnic tables in the village park to extend their usage life.

• The board approved the Roberts Lions Club to hold Roberts Good Neighbor Days on June 2-5 on the village park grounds.

• The board approved New Richmond Shared Ride Taxi's request to service people between Roberts and New Richmond. The company would be available to Roberts residents to go into New Richmond for $3 pickup and $1/mile. There is no cost to the village at this point; however, they would ask the village help subsidize them if they are asked to provide service within Roberts in the future.

• Kim Hamilton, Roberts business owner, asked permission to hold an "Easter on Main Street" event on April 9 similar to their trick-or-treating in October and Christmas event in December. Hamilton spoke about teaming up with the 4-H egg hunt at the elementary school that day and having Main Street businesses sponsor a petting zoo and egg coloring downtown in the afternoon. They asked to block off part of the street, but are unsure of the exact time until they coordinate with the 4-H. The board approved.

• Katy Kapaun, library board member, reported that the original punch list for the library building is finished; however, there is an issue regarding the doors between the community meeting room and the main room. The architect said the doors and locks are up to code, but Kapaun said the fire chief wants them changed to be an exit. Moeri said he will speak to the state inspector about it.

• Burgess said that the railways are planning on increasing speed of trains between Menomonie and Hudson. He wanted to inform the public about staying safe around the tracks.

• Burgess also said that the department has started issuing citations to people who are parking in the bus zone during the morning drop-off times. He said that warning people has not been effective, and he hopes to have some adult volunteers to help the students enter the school safely.

• The Village of Roberts meets the second Monday of each month at the Roberts Village Hall at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.