Pettee returns to Hudson police patrolHudson Police Department detective Shawn Pettee has made the decision to return to work as a full-time patrol officer for the department. He has several reasons for doing so.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Hudson Police Department detective Shawn Pettee has made the decision to return to work as a full-time patrol officer for the department. He has several reasons for doing so.
Pettee said he has been considering the move for the past six months, ever since it was clear that the department would eliminate the third detective position in a budget-cutting measure. He has been a detective since 2004 and said the caseload for the investigation unit has grown every year. When Det. Sgt. Eric Atkinson was promoted to lieutenant earlier this year, that left Pettee and Det. Jeff Knopps to handle the workload.
“The hardest thing is that I just don’t have the time to do the job the way I want to do it. There just isn’t enough time to give cases the attention they need. We have to constantly prioritize and that means some things get short-changed. There just too many cases and not enough hours in the day,” said Pettee.
Pettee, who has been with the HPD for 16 years, said he has had several cases in the last year that have required near or more than 100 hours of investigation including the recent discovery of a cache of stolen motorcycle parts in a Hudson storage facility and the investigation of thefts from the Willow River Parent Group, the Hudson Area Swim Association and Valley Cartage.
“Those cases required lots of interviews, talking with victims and insurance people and with other departments. In the meantime, other cases are constantly coming in but they have to wait, and some will never be resolved,” said Pettee.
Pettee said rather than cutting the number of investigators, it is his opinion that the HPD needs three investigators along with another detective who is dedicated solely to drug-related crimes.
“The biggest issue in Hudson right now is drugs. Almost every crime in this town — from car break-ins to credit card and identity theft to robberies — comes back to drugs and things people do to get or pay for them,” said Pettee.
Pettee said the drug traffic in Hudson these days revolves around heroin and prescription drugs which he says are easily available. Dealers no longer keep written records of their business but use computers and cell phones with password protection.
Pettee says that along with limited manpower, the department also lacks the necessary technology to get at this information. He says they get assistance from the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies but they have their own cases to work on.
“You have to work a drug case according to the dealers’ schedule which isn’t 9-5. This town needs a drug investigator working with the St. Croix County Drug Task Force full-time. It should be a priority.”
Pettee said his decision to return to patrol is the right one for him at this time but he knows it will have an impact on his family life. He and wife Maureen have two school-age children and going back to working nights and weekends will cut into family time. He says his children are also concerned because they know “working on the street is more dangerous.”
But he also thinks his past eight years as an investigator will make him a better patrolman. He plans to share what he has learned with less experienced officers, especially as it pertains to their initial reports.
“The more detail we put in that initial report can really have an impact on and improve the investigation that follows. We just spent 16 hours investigating that alleged abduction case. If two questions had been asked at initial report, we could have saved a lot of time. But that knowledge comes from experience. A lot of it is repetition — the more you do something, the better you get at it.”
Along with the hours and weekends and holidays off, Pettee said he loves his work and will miss the challenge of solving cases. But for now, the move to patrol is good one. And if the department should decide to reinstate the third detective position or bring on that drug investigator, he might be back.