Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
UPDATE Friday morning: I just spoke with Lt. Millard, who helped clarify some terms and information. Changes will be in bold italics.
Last Saturday, I received an email alert concerning suspicious door to door salesmen in the Weston Hills subdivision on the southwest side of Brookfield. This was the second time these salesmen had come to that neighborhood.
Evidently, the (Town) police were patrolling and looking for an older blue van with men selling cleaning products at dusk on Friday. The salesmen were going door to door, being rude, and asking odd questions like, "Can you tell me where the cool people in the neighborhood are?"
They also asked for a bottle of water and got angry when the homeowner said they didn't have any.
Just so you know, the men were in their early 20s and were NOT ethnic minorities.
I called the City of Brookfield police number on Saturday to find out if there were other complaints. The woman who answered the phone at the office said she had not heard of any, but that I should call the Community Officer on Monday.
On Monday, I spoke to Lt. Mark Millard, Brookfield's Community Officer and asked him about the odd behavior of those door to door salesmen in Weston Hills. He said he hadn't heard about it. I said that since Brookfield changed to the combined dispatch in Waukesha, I found I was less likely to report or call to ask about suspicious behavior. He said that others felt much the same but Brookfield police do want to know about ANYTHING suspicious going on in our city. He urged that we should not hesitate to call them.
But who do we call?
For an emergency, of course, call 911. A 911 call would be for a situation that you would want a response from a squad and/or ambulance with the lights and siren on, such as a gas line rupture, robbery in progress, bad car accident that needs EMT services, or health emergencies.
If it is an less acute (my words) emergency or something is going on at the moment that needs an officer, call the Waukesha County Communications Center (Send Officer) line: 262-787-3700. If that is busy, try 262-446-5070. This is the combined dispatch number and the call goes to the Waukesha office.
If it is an inquiry or just reporting something generally suspicious that happened (like my call), call Lt. Millard on his land line at 262-787-3623 and leave a message for him to call you back. (Sorry, I had to remove Lt. Millard's cell phone number.
If you need administrative assistance to see if your accident report was filed or how do you pay a ticket, call Brookfield's Administration or Clerical phone line at 262-787-3701 or 3702.
Lt. Millard informed me that any door to door salesmen in Brookfield must be licensed. Salesmen must conduct their business during daylight hours. Once it is dark, they are not allowed to solicit.
Beware of anyone asking for water or something to eat. Often the homeowner will leave the door and go fetch the requested item. Sometimes, unscrupulous salesmen who are really there for other purposes, will barge in and rob the homeowner. The Lieutenant related a case where someone portrayed themselves as a WE Energies employee, asked to come in, and then stole from the older woman!
Sometimes door to door salesmen, who are really after something else, will ask to use your phone or say their car broke down, could they use your phone? Lt. Millard gave me a great answer to those requests. If asked if they can come in, reply: "It looks like you are in need. Let me call the Brookfield police for you, they will help you." You could suggest they just wait in their car until the officer arrives.
If they ask to use your bathroom, know where the nearest gas station or place with a public restroom is and direct them to it.
Any legitimate salesman would never ask for a snack, soda, or to use your bathroom! They also would not get angry if you didn't know where the cool people lived or give them a bottle of water.
It turns out that the men in the blue van were licensed by the Town of Brookfield. (The senders of the email warning did speak with the police later.) But even if they are licensed, if solicitors are acting suspiciously, report them!
Lt. Millard told me of one group that used to sell door to door some time ago. Although they did not commit any crimes at the time, the police noticed a rash of break ins after their visits to certain neighborhoods. They weren't selling; they were casing the homes! Their permits were revoked.
What can you do? I would say, report anything you find suspicious. Just like there is no rule that says you have to answer the phone, you don't have to answer the door either! Instruct children not to open the door for anyone. Don't open the door to anyone you don't know if you are alone. If there is a window nearby, open it to speak to the solicitors. If you do open your door, keep your screen door locked--at least it will slow them down. Keep your home well lit at night. (I have heard burglars hate a light left on in a bathroom because someone could be in there for quite some time!)
The police can't be everywhere; they depend on resident's reports. Don't be afraid to call them if you need to speak to them.