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The North Bend Eagle


 

Council, sheriff talk ordinance enforement

by Nathan Arneal
Published 12/29/10

The North Bend City Council started its new year, with November electee Tom Mullally sitting in his first full meeting, by touching base with the Dodge County Sheriff at its Dec. 21 meeting.

Sheriff Steve Hespen said that his department is finally back to full strength after he lost three deputies to career changes this summer. One new deputy has been on the road for nearly two months, while two other recent hires have 10 to 12 more weeks of field training to go.

“Three at one time was obviously a big hit to us,” Hespen said. “When you only have 14 deputies and lose three, that’s a large percentage of your work force.”

City Clerk Theresa Busse said she has fielded complaints from citizens that the Sheriff’s department doesn’t do enough work in North Bend. The city has a contract with the Sheriff’s department to provide North Bend police protection. Sheriff’s deputies spend between eight to nine hours a day in North Bend on average.

“You usually put in your hours,” Busse said, “but I think the problem is that people think you’re never here because you’re here at night when we’re all in bed.”

Hespen said that is probably true, since the department puts an emphasis on patrolling the city after 8 p.m. He also said that a reduced number of deputies have been working the day shift while the department has been undermanned because of the three resignations.

Mayor Jeff Kluthe asked if the city’s fee is reduced when deputies spend a reduced amount of time in town. Hespen said no, the contract does not specify a number of hours to be spent in town. He also pointed out that North Bend is not charged extra for months deputies spend an above average amount of time in North Bend.

The sheriff and council discussed whether the deputies should be more proactive in enforcing city ordinances when patrolling North Bend. The sheriff was told that some North Bend taxpayers feel they do not get their money’s worth because of the perception that the deputies drive around and don’t do anything since they are not enforcing city ordinances.

Hespen agreed that it is his department’s job to enforce city ordinances but it would be better to wait for complaints to be filed.

“Ordinance violations are best addressed when they are complaint based,” Hespen said. “If you come to the point where we have to enforce ordinances on sight, I think the city would not like that. If you get calls and complaints now, you’d really get complaints on that. You run into the situation of where do you start and stop. You can’t enforce every city ordinance. If they are complaint based, then that’s an ordinance that Joe Citizen feels strongly enough about that they call.”

Hespen told a story from several years back when a deputy came to North Bend one morning and started issuing warning tickets for parking violations that he saw.

“The city was livid,” Hespen said. “They called the sheriff and reamed the deputy, ‘How dare you do that.’ I’m not saying that (the current council) would do that, but that was the response we got years ago. It kind of left a bad taste in the deputies’ mouth that we tried to do something and got nailed to the cross.”

Hespen said his deputies will be more than happy to follow up on complaints that citizens call into the sheriff’s department such as abandoned vehicles, parking violations, etc., but he said people are often afraid to do that because then think the deputies will tell who registered the complaint. The sheriff said deputies do not reveal who called in a complaint because they themselves aren’t told.

He also said citizens should call his office directly to lodge a complaint, not North Bend City Hall.

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