By Kris Leonhardt
“It started in the 1970s as a group of citizen volunteers from a CB group and dispatch, when it was still in Marshfield, monitoring whatever the emergency channel that was used for (the CBs,)” explains Seth Stankowski, director of the Marshfield Police Auxiliary. “Some of the local citizens would keep their eyes and ears open and go around, and they would radio in anything they saw, particularly for events such as Halloween or bigger events like that.”
The Auxiliary began as a citizens’ band (CB) radio group in the 1970s. At the time, a group called the Tri-County 19er CB group (also referred to as the CB Patrol in Marshfield) was connected to the Wood County Emergency Government communications system.
Marshfield area members included: Edward “Bud” Beaudry, Clarence Davis, Dave Schmidt, and Steve Utheimer.
When the group realized that their duty was first to Marshfield, they broke away from the Wood County organization and looked to join alliance with the Marshfield Police Department.
They traveled the city reporting vandalism and suspicious activity. The group also became storm watchers, to allow officers to respond to emergencies while relieving them from more humble duties.
In November 1977, the Marshfield Fire & Police Commission granted the group sanction, and they became an official part of the department, with Beaudry functioning as a liaison between the group and the department.
The group progressed to assisting with traffic navigation during high school games and tournaments, and began handling bike registrations during the busy spring rush.
In 1980, the Fire & Police Commission created a more concrete structure of vandalism patrol on the weekends, setting auxiliary members up with a police van and official uniforms to patrol parks and schools.
While patrolling the city, auxiliary members continued to communicate with the police department through CB radios. The auxiliary group had its own dispatch center, with equipment donated to the city, to communicate with another auxiliary police member at the department. This set up was an effort to keep additional work off the department’s dispatcher.
Though 17-members strong at the time, the public knew little of the auxiliary and its service to the city.
The group met for monthly training, but had capabilities beyond their duties. In 1980, three members of the group were trained radioactive monitors and three were HAM radio operators. The group also consisted of a registered nurse and a former patrol officer.