By: Renea Kessler
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The Wauseon Police Department has been a little busier than the past year. From January 1st to June 30th, 2023, they had 6,392 service calls this year compared to the 5,364 service calls the previous year.
The main reason for the increase is because of how the department has been keeping track of property patrols.
They have started to log when officers are out on patrol and checking a business or area. This is to better reflect how often officers are on patrol and to show that they are being active.
Wauseon’s Chief Kevin Chittenden also explained that law enforcement has changed everywhere, including here in Fulton County.
There is a lack of new officers completing the police academy. Combine that with the fact that many officers have or are approaching retirement age, and the result ends up being that there are not enough new officers to replace them.
Due to this, departments are taking officers from other departments at a rate much higher than has ever been seen before. Departments are giving raises and other incentives just to try and be fully staffed.
Mental health also continues to be the biggest issue law enforcement is facing right now on the working side of things.
A person in crisis and mental health illness is becoming more and more frequent during service calls.
“These are the hardest calls to handle for officers as there may not always be a right answer or anything that officers can do. It is not like a speeding ticket or a theft, where how the situation is handled is clear-cut,” said Chief Chittenden.
Wauseon has been lucky when it comes to manpower, they have stayed fully staffed for full-time officers.
They do, however, have a huge need for part-time and auxiliary officers. Dispatch has also been a hard spot to fill for the department as well.
Over the past year, the Wauseon P.D. has been working with Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Wauseon Fire Department, on switching all 3 of the agencies to a new dispatch and records system that will allow for greater cooperation and communication.
There have been big changes in Fulton County with Delta, Fayette, and Swanton, with all either recently getting, getting, or currently looking for new police chiefs.
For the past four plus years, Fulton County has been consistent in police administration. Wauseon P.D. has a very diverse group of officers when it comes to skills and job assignments.
They are the only department with a polygraph examiner, a full-time SRO and detective. Cities the size of Wauseon rarely have all of those at their disposal explained Chief Chittenden.
When asked what law enforcement means to you, Chief Chittenden responded with “Law enforcement is about keeping the peace and getting the law breakers off the streets. It’s also about helping those that cannot help themselves.”
Chief Chittenden would also like people reading this to know that “The support in Fulton County for law enforcement is truly a blessing.”
“Law enforcement is a difficult job, and it does weigh on the men and women who chose this line of work. Having the support of the community, even when we may make mistakes, is huge.”
Renea can be reached at