Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Bill Ison Settling into Role as Tribal Chief of Police

Bill Ison Settling into Role as Tribal Chief of Police

Sitting in his office, located in the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) building, Bill Ison looks poised to move into his new position as Chief of Police for the Sokaogon Chippewa Community.

Although the Tribe has not operated with a police force before, his past experience in law enforcement has prepared him well for this position, he said.

“I’ve been in this business for over 40 years,” Chief Ison said. “I’ve served a long time as a Deputy Sheriff for the Forest County Sheriff’s Department. During that time, I was out here from time-to-time and began to get to know people. I’ve gone to school with people from the Tribe and feel like I’ve built some good relationships.”

The Tribal Police Force is starting “from the ground up.” This means adding officers, equipment and a whole lot of paperwork. Ison is prepared and excited to jump in to the work ahead.

“It’s going to be a big job,” he said. “I’ve gotten quite a bit of positive feedback from the community. Hopefully, we’ll be able to provide a good law enforcement service and they’ll be happy with the work that we do. We also hope this can take some pressure off the county.”

Mole Lake was one of the few reservations in the state that did not operate with its own police force. Although the topic has been discussed for a number of years, funding was finally awarded and the Tribal Council was able to move forward in creating a Police Department.

According to Ison, the Chief of Police is there to “protect and serve.”

“I want people to be safe. You have to take care of their needs, as it falls in the scope of your duties. There will be other officers working with us as we go along, so we always hope that they’re able to stay safe. It’s all about helping the community the best we can.”

Chief Ison said the issues the Tribe faces are generally similar to issues communities across the country face. As a result, he does not look at this any differently from other law enforcement positions he has held in the past.

He did say that police work has changed with the advancement of technology. When he began, life was a little more simple; now he has had to learn new skills to stay up-to-date.

“You used to have a car, a radio, a badge and a gun,” he said. “Now, you have all the electronic equipment, communication equipment, record keeping materials – it has changed the business a whole lot. I do everything I can to keep up and do the best job I can do.”