Plan to activate sirens being worked out by village, county

Proposal calls for sheriff’s office to step in during severe weather if police can’t respond
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Village of Grafton is finalizing a plan with Ozaukee County’s Sheriff’s Office to activate severe-weather sirens in the event Grafton Police Department staff is unable to respond.

The sirens are manually activated at the police department’s former dispatch center. With the transfer of dispatch services to the county in November, several police support specialists left the department, which resulted in limited coverage.

In the past, Police Chief Charles Wenten said the department has had difficulty maintaining around-the-clock coverage — especially during third shift — at the station’s lobby, which is staffed by police support specialists.

The village’s Finance Committee on Monday recommended establishing an activation connection with the county for $5,756. Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said the village explored retrofitting its existing equipment to save on costs, but that option is not possible. 

The committee voted 3-1 for the project. Trustee Sue Meinecke opposed the plan.

“This is another thing that was overlooked before sending dispatch to the county,” Meinecke said. 

Officials said the department has hired three support specialists since the transition of dispatching services, but two are currently being trained. The department had six support specialists prior to the consolidation.

In the interim, the sheriff’s office will notify Grafton police officers by radio if they need to activate the sirens when a police support specialist is not on duty.

If there are no support specialists available and officers are unable to respond, the sheriff’s office will notify the village’s Emergency Director Bob Sehmer or Wenten to activate the sirens.

In order for the sirens to be activated, a tornado must be spotted within 15 miles of Grafton, wind speeds of 65 miles per hour must be measured or structural damage observed indicating wind speeds of 65 mph or higher.

Ozaukee County’s dispatch center took over the village’s 911 calls in November because the village lost its medical direction with Aurora Health Care for an emergency medical dispatch program. That would have made the village liable for any medical directions given by staff.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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