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'He's my backup and vice versa': Washington Island Police Chief reflects on having one other officer

Posted at 1:57 PM, Feb 08, 2024
  • Video shows the Washington Island Police Department, operated by only two officers
  • Tyler McGrane has been a police officer on Washington Island for 24 years
  • During the winter it's a bit slower; grant writing, watching for expired plates and speeders.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Washington Island is home to about 700 people. I'm your Door County neighborhood reporter Katlyn Holt and two police officers are responsible for keeping those people safe.

"Everybody calls me Tyler," laughed Chief McGrane, "There's a lot of people don't even know my last name, even though it's printed."

Tyler McGrane has been a police officer on Washington Island for 24 years, most of it as the Chief. He has a staff of one, his partner Gary Schultz.

"He's my backup and vice versa,” said McGrane, “You kind of take on the role of everything.”

And by everything, he means everything. During the winter it's a bit slower; grant writing, watching for expired plates and speeders.

"When there's just the two of you and the majority of time it's just yourself," said McGrane.

But there are times when they may need backup.

“The Door County Sheriff's Department's available,” said McGrane.

Though, help may not get there quickly.

"They're available through, uh, getting here by the Washington ferry of course," explained McGrane.

McGrane says at a minimum they're waiting for an hour.

"It becomes challenging depending what time of year, season it is," said McGrane.

McGrane says during the summer, about once a week they're dealing with heavier stuff like death [investigations], serious injury crashes, snd missing people.

And the two will work 24-hour shifts if the other officer has to leave the island. But overall, he says the island is safe.

“It's very rewarding, you know, to be able to call this home,” said McGrane.

McGrane raised his family here and he's long since adjusted to the island lifestyle.

He told how you're supposed to wave to everyone on the island.

“It could be somebody who doesn't even like you,” explained McGrane.

It’s something they just do.

He welcomes the busy season. A chance he says to recommend the best beach or swapping stories with locals and travelers from all over the world.

“We work here and we're raising not only our own families…” said McGrane, “but we're you know, we're helping raise everybody else’s children to.”

McGrane tells me the Washington Island Police Department was created in 1989. He became the departments second full-time police officer when he joined the force in 1999.