Had it not been for Brookfield Police Officers Jesse Hart and Michael Skemp, it's possible the May 29 homicide of a Waukesha gas station clerk may still be unsolved.
But due to what Police Chief Dan Tushaus called their perceptive and proactive police work, the two helped make the arrest of a man suspected in the death of 56-year-old
Officers Hart and Skemp received department letters of commendation at a Police and Fire Employee Recognition Ceremony Wednesday held in the Brookfield Public Safety Building's Municipal Court Room. Also at the event, six of seven new police officers were sworn in (one was unable to attend). And Officer Todd Higgins was promoted to detective.
The seven new officers are Katie Jo Beres, Kevin David, Bryan Franckowiak, Stephanie Metz, Jeff Mohns, Bradley Rodich and Josef Sabre.
With Mayor Steve Ponto at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Orlando, Fla., Common Council President Mark Nelson stepped in, congratulating the rookie officers for taking on a job many are unable or unwilling to do.
"You are special because of the special obligations you must accept," Nelson said. "You are special because of the special trust bestowed upon you to ensure the safety and welfare of this community."
Serve with honor and dignity
He urged them: "Be steadfast in doing what is right, what is fair, and what is just. Be courageous and be brave. Serve with honor and dignity. Strive to uphold the finest traditions of this extraordinary police force. And if you do that, rest assured, you will serve with the abiding faith and deepest gratitude of this entire community. Thank you and congratulations."
Chief Tushaus told the new officers, their coworkers and families present, "We have very high standards. We look for people with honor, integrity and character, people who have courage to do the right things."
He administered the oath of office to them and to Higgins on his promotion.
Since Higgins was selected as detective in a "very competitive" promotion process, Tushaus said, "He become a valued member of our investigation team."
Higgins has been with the Brookfield police department since 2001, following three years with the Milwaukee Police Department and earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from UW - Milwaukee.
He served for more than a year on the Waukesha County Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Unit and formerly served as a Brookfield field training officer and Honor Guard member. Higgins currently serves on the police department's SWAT team and is a firearms instructor.
Hart, Skemp commended for alertness
Tushaus read the letter of commendation to Officers Hart and Skemp for their role in the .
Waukesha police, he said, responded to a homicide about 4:19 a.m. May 29. "The night shift clerk was murdered, the store was ransacked and robbed. There was little information regarding the suspect," Tushaus said.
About 2 a.m. May 30, Brookfield and Elm Grove police were investigating a home invasion when Officer Hart saw a man walking with a skateboard along Bluemound Road. They stopped to question him, and although he didn't match the home invasion case, he did have a warrant and he was connected with bags found at a bus stop on Bluemound Road that contained suspicious items such as numerous packs of cigarettes, cigars and a laptop computer.
"Officer Skemp offered a suggestion that Ingram may have been involved in the unsolved Waukesha homicide," and they contacted Waukesha police, eventually turning him over to them, Tushaus said.
"The actions of Officers Hart and Skemp led to the City of Waukesha solving their crime," he said. "(Hart and Skemp) are being recognized for being alert and assertive in detaining Ingram and being suspicious of a number of key pieces of evidence found on his person and in baggage located.
"Your actions and teamwork reflect great credit upon you and our department," Tushaus said. "I'm very proud of you and your work. I feel privileged to serve with you. Congratulations and keep up the good work."