Williams Bay Interim Police Chief Chris Severt

Chris Severt, retired Walworth police chief, is now interim police chief at Williams Bay. (Photo by Chris Schultz/Regional News)

WILLIAMS BAY — The village has reached out to a retired chief from a neighboring community to act as interim police chief while Chief Laura Washer continues to recover from a motorcycle accident.

Chris Severt, former Walworth village police chief, was hired by Williams Bay as interim chief starting Dec. 19, 2017.

Village Administrator Jim Weiss said that the village’s contract with Severt runs until Dec. 31, 2018. He is to work up to 40 hours a week depending on circumstances, but no more than 1,200 hours in the year.

Severt said he is being paid $45 an hour, which is the equivalent of about $93,000 a year if he worked full-time.

Although he signed the contract for a year, it can end at any time. Severt said he expects the contract will end when Washer returns to the chief’s position.

“As soon as she gets back in the game, I’ll leave,” he said.

Washer has been recovering from numerous injuries and complications since she was hurt in a motorcycle accident near Green Bay on Aug. 9, 2017.

Severt said his responsibilities in Williams Bay will be to provide management experience and provide management guidance to Capt. Chris Douglas, who had previously assumed management of the department after Washer’s accident.

Another of Severt’s responsibilities is to keep the department within budget.

He was selected over another candidate, Bob Rosch, former Hartland chief of police.

While not yet ready to return to work, Washer was released from a rehabilitation hospital Jan. 6 and is now at home in Elkhorn. Washer said she will still go to therapy at the hospital three times a week.

She said she is unsure when she will return to work.

Washer said she was contacted by Village Trustee George Vlach and asked about possible interim chief candidates. She said she named Severt and Rosch as possible candidates.

Washer said she’s known Severt since 1998. She said she believes that Severt will do a good job as interim chief.

Bob Pruessing, former Williams Bay police chief, had previously been asked to act as a consultant with the department shortly after Washer’s accident.

Weiss said Pruessing was asked to help with payroll and accounts payable and other technical duties. He said Pruessing put in about 20 hours as a consultant at $30 an hour.

“George Vlach called me up and asked me to help out,” Pruessing said, adding that his temporary relationship with the Bay was more of a handshake agreement.

“I never met with any board members,” he said.

Pruessing said he was surprised that the village never contacted him about applying for the interim chief’s position.

Vlach, chairman of the village board’s Public Safety Committee, said the committee did not intentionally pass on Pruessing.

“I don’t think there was anything against Chief Pruessing,” Vlach said.

Pruessing said he wasn’t sure that he would have taken the job if he had been asked. He said he didn’t know what the job requirements for the interim chief were. He said he would have to know the details of the position before deciding.

“I parted ways with the village on good terms,” he said, “and I want to keep it that way.”

Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.