The Elm Grove Police Department is joining a coalition of small departments that encourages cooperation and sharing of equipment during major investigations.
"I think it's a good use of our resources, and I think it offers a great opportunity for us to increase our manpower at the scenes," Police Chief James Gage said.
The Village Board last week approved the $500 joining fee for the Lake Area Major Investigations Unit, a program that will give Elm Grove the ability to use detectives, specialists and equipment — including a fully equipped investigative trailer — belonging to Hartland, Chenequa, Lannon, the Village of Pewaukee and the City of Delafield.
In return, Elm Grove will send its specialists and resources to help out when those communities have a need.
The coalition would have come in handy for Elm Grove three times so far this year — most notably during a four-hour standoff with an armed man who had barricaded himself inside an apartment building along Bluemound Road earlier this month.
The other major cases that could have made use of the coalition were investigations of a burglary and a drug-related death.
In the standoff, Gage explained, officers who had been guarding the perimeter of the scene for about four hours had to switch gears and become evidence technicians once a search warrant came in. The extra support would have been welcome, he said.
The extra manpower and equipment the coalition can provide would be quite costly for Elm Grove to supply on its own, Gage said. And it isn't likely the coalition will prove a great drain on Elm Grove's resources.
"This particular unit has only been activated once or twice in the last year in the various communities, so there's not a heavy call volume," he said. "However, we could have used them already three times this year."
Gage stressed to the trustees that the program shares only detectives and investigative resources, and it will not affect response times or the number of officers on patrol.
Annual membership in the program ranges from $250 to $500, and, Gage said, the money only goes toward maintaining the program. He's also been told the fee may not be assessed every year.
"Their treasury is at a point where they don't feel there would be any annual fees for some time to come, because they just use it to cover the costs," he said.
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