By Mike Barhorst
Sidney’s Police Department is a full-service agency that delivers a wide range of professional law enforcement services. The department’s vision is “to exceed the expectations of our community, to adapt to the ever changing challenges, and to provide the highest level of service and protection to our citizens.”
The Police Department’s vision is accomplished through the services provided by the dedicated officers and support staff in conjunction with strong community support. The department is committed to providing outstanding service and helping to keep Sidney a welcoming and vibrant community.
The department is led by Chief Will Balling, who has been with the department for more than 23 years. Chief Balling has a Masters Degree with a focus in Criminal Justice Administration, is a Certified Law Enforcement Executive, and is a graduate of the Northwestern Staff and Command program.
The department is divided into five divisions. Those divisions include Administration, Patrol, Communications, Special Assignments and Records.
Captain Bill Shoemaker oversees the Patrol division. A graduate of the FBI Academy, Captain Shoemaker has been with the department for 20 years.
Patrol is comprised of six sergeants and 22 officers working three regular shifts (0700-1500, 1500-2300, and 2300 to 0700) and two split shifts (1100-1900 and 1900 to 0300). The patrol section responds to more than 28,000 calls for service each year.
Citizens will often see officers from the Patrol division patrolling the city, enforcing criminal and traffic laws. They also assist the public with civil matters and provide coverage for non-emergency functions including special events and escorting funeral processions.
Captain Jerry Tangeman, who has been with the department for nearly 24 years, oversees the Special Assignments division. The Special Assignments division is staffed by six detectives who handle the department’s investigative needs. Three detectives are general assignment investigators, one detective investigates crimes against children, and two detectives comprise the Sidney Narcotics Task Force.
The detectives working in the investigative unit are highly experienced. Each has received specialized training in their respective assignment areas. The Special Assignment division is unique among law enforcement agencies our size in that we have a computer forensics examination platform through which computers and cell phones can be forensically processed in house. The ability to examine electronic media in house greatly speeds the investigative process.
Shelby County Crime Stoppers operates in close conjunction with the Special Assignments division. Crime Stoppers is a citizen-supported partnership between the media, citizens, and law enforcement who join together to fight crime in Shelby County.
Individuals with knowledge of a crime can call the Sidney-Shelby County Crimestoppers Tips Line (937.492.8477) and provide information they may have about a crime that has been committed. All informants may choose to remain anonymous, with their information identified with a code number. This methodology protects the caller’s identity. If the information provided through Crimestoppers leads to an arrest, a cash reward may be offered.
Office Supervisor Angie Kitzmiller, who has been with the department for 17 years, heads the Records division. The Records division consists of two full-time clerks who are responsible for maintaining all department records. This includes calls for service, arrest reports, incident reports and motor vehicle accident reports.
Records division clerks are the contact point for the release of all Police Department public records. Most reports are made available within 48 to 72 hours after they are taken. If you need to pick up a copy of a record for any reason, I would suggest that you call the Records division (937.498.2351) to see if the record is available as well as the cost for obtaining a copy of the record prior to making the trip to the Police Department.
The Records division also issues City of Sidney Permit Parking placards for the two city lots and for on-street parking. In addition, the Records division accepts payment for parking tickets, and provides receipts for those tickets. The Records division also issues peddlers/solicitors permits and taxi cab operator permits.
Captain Mike Rosengarten oversees the Communications division. Captain Rosengarten is a graduate of the Public Safety Leadership Academy, and has been with the department for 21 years.
The Communications division is currently staffed by eight full-time telecommunicators and two part-time telecommunicators (dispatchers). The telecommunicators handle the initial phone call made to the department for assistance. Those calls include more than 15,000 9-1-1 calls each year. The telecommunicators serve dual roles in that they gather vital call information and then dispatch the appropriate units. Monitoring weather alerts for potential activation of tornado sirens also falls within the duties of the Communications division.
In closing, I want to encourage all citizens to call the police department when they observe suspicious persons, suspicious activity, or suspicious vehicles. Do not hesitate to call when/if incidents arise; no one knows your neighborhood better than those who live and work there. For emergencies, the number to dial is 9-1-1. For all other calls, simply call the Sidney Police Department’s business line (937.498.2351).
In my next article, I’ll go into more depth on the community-based policing programs offered by the Sidney Police Department.