About Police Department
The Oneida Police Department serves the community, within the Oneida reservation, by helping build a stronger, safer community through police protection and service while instilling a sense of unity and treating all with respect, dignity, and compassion.
In The 1970’s Oneida Tribal leaders brought a proposal to the General Tribal Council to establish a Tribal Law Enforcement agency. The proposal went to vote and it was rejected. Once Bingo and other Tribal enterprises were established on the Oneida reservation, a security force was necessary, which created a larger demand for Law Enforcement services on the reservation. The local agencies could not provide the services that were needed and asked for by Tribal leaders.
In mid-1985, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin approached James Danforth, who was an Outagamie County Sheriff Deputy, with their concern of establishing a tribal law enforcement agency. The Oneida Public Safety Department was established on November 12, 1985, with James Danforth as the Chief of Police, 13 officers, and one Secretary/Dispatcher. All the officers were enrolled Oneida Tribal members and were required to go to the Basic Police Academy for training and certification. The intention was to provide police, fire, and rescue services to the Reservation.
Initially there was resistance from the agencies that also covered the Oneida Reservation boundaries. The agencies, Brown and Outagamie Counties, disputed the law enforcement powers the Department was attempting to use. Public Law 280 did establish the authority for criminal law enforcement on the reservations in the state, which Oneida did fall under.
Between the initial organization of the department and the early 90’s, the agencies did not recognize the department as a Law Enforcement agency with any arrest powers. Incidents such as threatening to arrest Oneida Officers if they were caught speeding to impounding Oneida squad cars occurred. A lawsuit had been filed in federal court by the two counties disputing the jurisdiction within the reservation boundaries as established in the 19th century. The court eventually ruled that Oneida did have concurrent jurisdiction within the boundaries, along with the counties.
Ashwaubenon Public Safety Chief John Konapacki entered into an agreement with the Oneida Public Safety Department for dispatching services. This agreement did give the department access to 24 hour dispatching, vehicle and driving records, NCIC and CIB files through the state of Wisconsin.
After the federal courts ruled on the concurrent jurisdiction on the reservation, Sheriff Leon Pieschek of the Brown County Sheriffs Department entered into an agreement to dispatch for Oneida. A “dual dispatch” system was worked out where both an Oneida and a county officer would be dispatched to all calls for service on the reservation. Brown County also dispatched Oneida Officers into Outagamie County for calls of service there. Later, Sheriff Brad Gehring of the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department, entered into an agreement to dispatch Oneida Officers. However they would send the Oneida officers alone, depending of the seriousness of the offense.
The professional relationship grew when an Oneida officer was included into the Brown County Multi-Jurisdictional Group and was deputized by Pieschek. Eventually, all the Oneida Officers would be deputized in which ever county they resided. Outagamie County deputized all the officers living in Outagamie County in 1991. In 1993, Brown County deputized all the officers living in Brown County.
On January 24, 1996, the Oneida Police Department moved from a small building on Park Drive (with 3 rooms and a 4 room mobile home outside) into a 22,000 square foot building at 2783 Freedom Rd.
In July 2000, the Oneida Police Department started a Dispatch Center which provides dispatching services for the Police Department twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The Department now enjoys a positive working relationship with the surrounding communities.
Currently, the Oneida Police Department consists of a Chief of Police, Assistant Chief, Lieutenant, three Sergeants, one Detective Sergeant, 12 Patrol Officers consisting of one K-9 Officer, a Community Resource Officer, a School Liaison and D.A.R.E. Officer, five Dispatchers-including a Dispatch Supervisor, one Office Manager and one Administrative Assistant.
The officers contribute to the community by offering a wide variety of services and programs other than the general Law Enforcement duties. Some of these are the GREAT, DARE, and School Liaison programs at the Oneida Nation School System. Other programs offered are the Exploring Post (part of the Boy Scouts of America) and activities such as Safety Camps, school functions and other community functions.