Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Chief awards three officers
Cops make big arrests, install squad software

by Steve Targo

August 01, 2013

Balog
GENOA CITY — Who says being a cop is thankless work?

On July 11, Genoa City Police Chief Joe Balog presented awards to officers Steve Bappert, Mike Lauderdale and Jeff Sperandeo.

Bappert received a commendation ribbon and a certificate for his role in the ongoing investigation of recent burglaries in the village.

"Officer Bappert, on his own time, made inquiries to private companies to assist in putting together a plan that ended a serial burglar's spree," Balog said in an email.

Lauderdale "exhibited professionalism" in a ninth-offense operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) situation. He received a letter of commendation which originated from an email sent by Diane Donahoo, assistant district attorney for Walworth County.

Sperandeo's commendation letter was issued not because of a case, but for his efficiency in a crucial technological aspect of the police department.

In a July 17 phone interview, he said he had the department's new Traffic and Criminal Software program — or TraCs — operating faster than anticipated.

"They told us during training that it would take approximately 40 hours to have everything up and running," Sperandeo said.

It only took him about eight hours — saving taxpayers "thousands of dollars," Balog said.

"Officer Sperandeo also was assisting the instructor in the class to help other agencies and has since taken calls from other agencies to help walk them through getting (TraCs) set up," Balog said.

The Regional News asked each officer to talk about themselves a little more and discuss their achievements. Here's what they had to say.

Bappert

Although he didn't provide any biographical information prior to deadline, Bappert and Balog commented via email on the burglary case. However, Bappert said he won't discuss specific details because of the "sensitive nature" of the case.

"Towards the end of 2012, there was a multijurisdictional crime spree that was spreading through Southeast Wisconsin and Northeast Illinois," Bappert said, adding he helped form a plan to put a stop to it. More details won't be released, he said.

Several area taverns and restaurants were hit, including 332 Fellows.

Balog said Bappert's effort allowed them to foil the third burglary attempt at that business, which led to the arrest of Kory Myerson, of Harvard, Ill.

Myerson's arrest also "added closure to a burglary" in the town of Geneva, Balog said.

He said Bappert's efforts to reach out to other companies "paid off" and praised the officer, who has also headed up the police department's Shop With a Hero program.

"He takes his job and the protection of this community very seriously," Balog said.

Lauderdale

The ninth-offense OWI case of Bruno Moelter, of Bloomfield, is scheduled for a jury trial, but Balog said Lauderdale's testimony secured evidence "that will hold Mr. Moelter accountable for his actions and took a dangerous driver off the road."

On Feb. 9, Moelter crashed into a pole on Highway H, north of Fellows Road, according to the criminal complaint.

In an email, Lauderdale said he can't comment much about the case, which is ongoing and scheduled for a jury trial, but this is the first time he has ever received an award.

The 26-year-old who was born and raised in Walworth County also revealed why he decided to be a police officer.

"One of the classes that I was in, we had to do a job shadow," Lauderdale said. "I did a ride-along with Sgt. Det. Clark, with the Town of Delavan Police Department. I really enjoyed it and figured it was something that I would be interested in."

He said he also discussed the idea many times with his father, Dan "Louie" Lauderdale, a police officer in Williams Bay.

Mike Lauderdale started law enforcement training once he was out of high school and it doesn't seem like he has any regrets.

"I love what I do and think it is a very rewarding job," he said.

"I get to do something new just about every day, and it really keeps me thinking all the time."

Sperandeo

Like Mike Lauderdale, Sperandeo is 26 and went to Badger. In addition to police sciences, Sperandeo also has an apparent gift when it comes to computers. He said at Badger, he helped design a website for the principal.

Sperandeo, a Genoa City native, managed to find a way he can make a living doing two things he loves — law enforcement and computers.

"Originally, I started college in computer sciences, computer networking, and later on, I decided I wanted to get into law enforcement," Sperandeo said.

He said he grew up with computers, and he likes working within the community as a police officer.

"I know the people here, I like helping them, and I like the adrenalin," Sperandeo said. "I like the rush of it, the calls."

This is the second time he received an award from Balog. Last fall, he was recognized for his role in implementing a heroin bust in Genoa City.

In addition to managing the department's website and Facebook page, Sperandeo is the de facto IT guy.

"Officer Sperandeo has continuously showed his valued expertise in IT work that has increased the efficiency of our department, but also, it has saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars — if we were to hire an IT company to install and get TraCs running or to fix just general issues," Balog said.

Why is TraCs a benefit?

Sperandeo said it's software that allows officers to print citations out in their squad cars and keeps track of data to submit to the Department of Transportation.

"We've been (using TraCs) since day one, when I had it installed," he said. "It helps because it's quicker, you don't have to write tickets out by hand (and) it stores them electronically."