Appleton panel reaffirms ending SWAT sharing

Despite objections from Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna and Grand Chute Town Chairman Dave Schowalter, a safety panel Thursday reaffirmed an earlier vote to end an agreement to share SWAT team resources.

Appleton’s Safety and Licensing Committee voted to sever the year-long pact with Grand Chute at the request of Appleton Chief Pete Helein.

Hanna said the dispute arose after the town received a bill from Appleton for SWAT team services following a deployment, which was staffed by Helein. The chief’s portion of the bill was for $186.

Grand Chute contends Helein is welcome at the deployments, but since he’s not on the team, and doesn’t command it, the city shouldn’t be reimbursed.

Helein said larger philosophical differences exist between the two police forces that are not resolvable.

“I’ve tried very hard to find common ground on this,” Hanna said. “The relationship with a neighbor is what’s important here.”

Since the leadership clash has been unresolved even after several meetings, the panel sided with Helein.

“We have many other agreements with the town that will remain strong,” Alderwoman Kathy Plank said. “This is a relatively small blip on the radar.”

Grand Chute’s chairman Schowalter said the town likely will turn to the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department for SWAT assistance in the future, but he would make a final push this week to convince Appleton aldermen to change course before Wednesday’s council meeting.

— Nick Penzenstadler: 920-996-7226, or npenzenstadler@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @npenzenstadler

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