By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – Members of the De Pere Common Council met the newly-hired police department social worker at their Sept. 21 meeting.
John Bushmaker introduced himself to the board and updated alderperons about his first four months on the job.
The social worker position is the first of its kind in the De Pere Police Department.
The goal is for Bushmaker to handle some of the non-criminal community calls and contacts local police officers encounter.
He said one of his first priorities was to make contacts with members of the disability community, starting with the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Brown County.
Bushmaker said he has also gotten involved with addiction resources and suicide prevention groups, and completed training for those who have been sexually assaulted.
In the first three months he said he had more than 90 citizen contacts, and though he doesn’t respond to live police situations, he said he does respond to next-day referrals officers might forward to him.
Bushmaker said those can range from mental health issues to dementia, and connecting people with agencies or resources.
He said he’s found it helpful to be located inside the police department.
“A lot of times if you contract out for social services, you are doing a lot of email communications (and duplication of efforts),” Bushmaker said.
He said he’s seen a need for his services, in particular with the youth and elderly populations.
Mayor James Boyd said the addition of the position to the police department should be a point of pride for De Pere.
The council also authorized the sale and issuance of $10.3 million in general obligation promissory notes.
It will use these funds for the purchase of vehicles and equipment and resurfacing a parking lot for the fire department; improvements to municipal buildings; grants for façade improvements in Tax Incremental District No. 7; highway and infrastructure improvements in TIDs 10, 12 and 15; installation of street lighting, signs, markings and signals; purchase of replacement vehicles and equipment for the public works and parks departments; improvements to park buildings, a tennis court, a boat launch, the riverwalk and sidewalks; and construction of and improvements to streets and sidewalks and related landscaping.
Property tax collections
Council also approved spending $4,500 to cover expenses related to the city’s collecting of the first installment of property tax payments.
The motion included $3,000 for bank collection software and $1,500 to reimburse the county for the LandNav license.
Last year, Brown County decided it would no longer be responsible for collecting the first installment of property taxes for its member municipalities.
“This isn’t something we decided to go out and do,” Alderperson Jonathan Hansen said. “It was more or less forced on us.”
In other business
The council voted to:
• Use $3,830 from the unassigned reserves fund to replace the De Pere Situation Room video conferencing system.
• Approve a learning partnership benefit with Columbia Southern University for the fire department. The partnership enables online coursework at a discount.
• Accept a donation of $750 to the police department from Walmart for ballistic shield replacement, as well as a grant of $3,500 from the Brown County Crime Prevention Funding Board, also for ballistic shields. De Pere Police Chief Derek Beiderwieden said the department has eight squad cars that need to be equipped with the shields, which he said are “very expensive.”
• Accept a quote of about $24,000 from Municode, Inc., for online services and recodification of the city’s municipal ordinances. The service covers updating of references in the code to state laws, proofreading, corrections, indexing, etc.
• Undo a previous measure to install a traffic signal at Allard and Grant streets, near West De Pere High School.
• Authorize $17,000 for a law enforcement organizational study to be done by Community Security Solutions, LLC.