Washington County Sheriff's Blog - 2016
Statements made by the current Washington County Sheriff, Dale K. Schmidt.
August 25, 2016
Real Life Stories of the Washington County Jail
When dangerous contraband is introduced into the jail, the safety of both inmates and correctional staff are put at risk. Washington County Correctional Officers strive to preserve a safe and secure atmosphere for everyone within the jail on a daily basis. Maintaining this environment presents some unique challenges that requires a high degree of training and professionalism. The following is just one such example:
On Tuesday, August 23, at 6:57am, a deputy responded to the jail to investigate a drug complaint. The preliminary investigation revealed a Huber inmate returned to the jail from the previous evening and correctional officers noticed she now appeared drowsy and out of character. As a matter of protocol she was instructed to provide urine for a urinary analysis. During that process the inmate, identified as a20-year-old Town of Barton woman, removed a bag of pills from her frontal lower body cavity. The baggie contained dozens of pills, including the prescription drug Trazodone. During the subsequent investigation it was revealed that she intended on delivering the drugs, which she did not have a prescription for, to another inmate. Trazodone is an antidepressant prescription medication that has anti-anxiety and sleep inducing effects, and the drug can react negatively with other prescription medications. Overdosing is a very real risk that Correction Officers work to prevent every day. The Sheriff’s Office is proud to have such a dedicated and professional group of Correctional Officers that maintain the highest standards. In this case, correctional staff intervened to stop what could have been a major medical emergency.
The woman’s Huber privileges have been revoked and she now faces several additional criminal drug charges.
February 19, 2016
BILL 248 - Strip Search Bill
On February 18th, the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 248, known as the Strip Search Bill, and sent it to Governor Walker for signature. All Washington County legislators voted in favor of the Bill and I applaud their votes. (A strip search is simply the viewing of a disrobed inmate by a Corrections Officer with an intent to discover contraband and prevent entry into the jail. It is NOT a body cavity search which must be done by a Physician under a search warrant. Contraband is typically hidden on the body and/or in body cavities and includes items such as needles containing heroin, pills, and blades. This “search” is done by one officer behind a screen and the officer does not touch the inmate. It is not recorded or on surveillance camera) Previously, if a newly booked inmate may be released within 12 hours, they could not be subjected to a strip search. This bill eliminates that. At the Sheriff’s Office, we strive to be mindful of civil liberties in our daily operations. Individuals lose some liberties however when lawfully arrested, and being subjected to a strip search, is one of those liberties. The safety of the staff and inmates, and exposure to lawsuits, are all at risk when dangerous contraband is introduced into the jail. Currently the person most at risk is the heroin/opiate addict trying to bring in the drug to avoid withdrawals. Overdosing is a very real risk that Corrections Officers work to prevent every day. Strip searches cannot stop all contraband, but SB 248 is good legislation.
More info available here → http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/proposals/sb248
-Sheriff Dale K. Schmidt
February 8, 2016
Governor Walker signed 2015 Wisconsin Act 149 earlier this month that will change how the Sheriff’s Office will enforce laws regarding subjects carrying knives in public. The Act allows anyone to carry an exposed knife, of any kind, and only regulates a person from carrying a concealed knife if they are prohibited from carrying a firearm. The act completely repeals certain knives that use to be regulated such as switchblades and butterfly knives. All knives are now treated the same, and you are not required to have a concealed weapon permit to carry a concealed knife.
As noted, the only exception is the newly-created §941.231. This concealed carrying of a knife statute is a class A misdemeanor violation only if you are prohibited from possessing a firearm. If you can legally possess a firearm, you can now legally carry a concealed knife.
This Act also prevents local units of government from enacting or enforcing any ordinance that more strictly regulates knives than a similar state statute. Municipalities no longer are able to enforce ordinances which place restrictions on the sale of knives, limit blade lengths, or prohibit certain types of knives. A local unit of government can still prohibit the possession of knives in buildings owned, occupied, or controlled by that unit of government.
More info available here → http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/related/acts/149
January 12, 2016
Real Life Stories of the Washington County Jail
County Jail is often misunderstood, mostly because the majority of the public never has a chance to see behind the walls. Periodically, this blog will share real life stories which hopefully add some insight to the challenges Washington County Sheriff’s Corrections staff face in the Jail on a daily basis.
Narcotic addiction by itself can create a ripple effect of problems upon incarceration, but pair that up with a pregnancy and then you start to see how quickly a ripple can become a tremendous burden on manpower and resources.
What do you do with a pregnant inmate who has a heroin addiction? To many, the answer seems easy…keep her away from heroin so we can protect the baby as well as the mother. Unfortunately, the effects of withdrawal from a substance, such as heroin, can be more dangerous to a fetus than the heroin. In this case, administering a controlled dose of a replacement medication, Methadone, was the course of action.
Methadone is a highly regulated prescription medication that is used to treat pain and also used in the treatment of narcotic drug addiction. There are regulations on who can prescribe it, what it can be prescribed for, and how it can be dispensed. The prescribed therapeutic dose in this case was just enough to avoid withdrawal symptoms in order to keep the baby safe. Due to the tight federal regulations of Methadone and the expecting mother’s legal status, the drug could not be administered inside the Jail.
The inmate was instead transported twice a week to a Methadone clinic in Milwaukee. These appointments included one on one and group counselling sessions at the clinic, as mandated by the regulations. Deputies were utilized to transport the inmate to all of her regularly scheduled Obstetrician appointments at St. Joseph’s Hospital and a clinic in West Bend.
Deputies spent 64+ hours over a six week period on transport and security alone. Additional countless hours were spent by the Corrections Officers, medical, and mental health staff to balance the safety and security of both mother and baby while providing the necessary collaborative care. Jail Administration pursued numerous possible options that were more efficient and secure but were unable to find any.
It is a case like this, which really displays the teamwork that happens behind the scenes of the Sheriff’s Office, when everyone is working towards the same goal. That goal was successfully reached in early December when the baby arrived without any major complications. The baby is currently under the care of family members while mom has completed the withdrawal protocol and is officially drug free. She remains in Jail custody pending transfer to prison to finish out her sentence on a Possession with Intent to Deliver Heroin conviction.
Sheriff Schmidt and Captain Lehman
January 11th, 2016
16-1262 OWI 1st Drugs
On Sunday, 1/10/16 at 5:42pm, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center took several cell 911 calls about a vehicle northbound on I41 near Holy Hill Rd that was driving in the emergency lane, tailgating vehicles, turning “blinkers” on and off without making lane changes, traveling 20 mph below the speed limit and swerving from lane to lane. The vehicle was stopped on I41 in the Town of Addison. The driver, and sole occupant of the vehicle, was identified as a 41-year-old City of Fond du lac man. The investigating deputy suspected drug use as a factor in the driving based upon his initial contact. Due to the cold/inclement weather, the driver was transported from the scene to a local fire department for field sobriety testing. The deputy developed probable cause that the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle was impaired due to drug consumption and the he was taken into custody. The operator was then transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital for a legal blood draw. The Sheriff’s Office, like several law enforcement agencies, have specifically trained officers to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) coordinates the International Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. These specifically trained officers are commonly referred to as “drug recognition experts” (DRE). In addition to these individual evaluations, drug recognition experts serve as educational support for prosecutors and judges in the prosecution of drugged drivers. Deputy Chris Killey is one of the DREs in Washington County. He was dispatched to the hospital for a DRE evaluation after a request from the initial investigating deputy. After the completion of the evaluation, Deputy Killey formed the opinion that the driver was under the influence of a Narcotic Analgesic category drug and was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. Even more notable to this case, he also observed that the subject displayed several early indicators of a pending opiate overdose. These overdoses are commonly fatal without medical intervention. These symptoms included difficulty breathing, rapid pulse rate, drossiness, agonal breathing, pinpoint pupils, etc. Rather than transporting the subject to jail, he advocated for early medical intervention. The subject was transferred to the emergency room where the attending physician agreed with our DRE’s medical assessment that the man was in the midst of an opiate overdose. Medical staff administered Narcan treatment and all symptoms of overdose were almost instantly resolved. Further testing showed that the driver was also in liver failure and he was subsequently admitted to ICU for more life saving measures. Through a high degree of training and observation skills, law enforcement was able to avoid a major medical event while the driver was in law enforcement custody.
Captain Martin R. Schulteis
January 11th, 2016
"Deputy’s Attention to Detail Makes a Difference”
One of the Sheriff’s Constitutional duties is to serve Civil Process; legal papers from the courts. Sheriff’s Deputies routinely serve Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions issued by Judges. Recently, Deputy Droese was preparing to serve a Temporary Restraining Order. While reviewing the attached narrative of the circumstances leading to the TRO filing, he realized that no one had reported the crime that the TRO was based on. Deputy Droese commenced an investigation that resulted in an arrest for Disorderly Conduct/Domestic Abuse under Wisconsin’s domestic abuse mandatory arrest law. The Sheriff’s Office investigates several Disorderly Conduct/Domestic Abuse related cases each week, so it is fairly routine. Deputy Droese’s could have assumed the case had already been investigated. His attention to detail and commitment to his duty ensured this crime was not ignored and the suspect properly brought into the criminal justice system.
Sheriff Dale K. Schmidt
Over the past couple of years, there is no shortage of stories in the media questioning law enforcement’s use of force that results in someone’s death. It is seldom reported when a law enforcement officer performs his/her duties under dangerous circumstances and the suspect lives. Recently Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies, under circumstances justifying the use of deadly force, found a way, to arrest a subject without harming him. This case brings to mind a similar one from 2014. Our community members should know that at their own risk, and through their courage and commitment, the Deputies protected innocent people, and saved both these men from themselves.
15-40894 On November 13th 2015, at 11:54 pm, Deputies were dispatched to a multi-family structure for an intoxicated man beating his wife in the parking lot. The first arriving deputy viewed a man with a bloody face in the front yard. That man, who turned out to be the suspect, quickly fled into the building.
Deputies made contact with the injured victim who informed them that her husband threatened to stab himself in the throat if the police showed up. She initially refused to provide any more information on how she was injured.
Deputies identified the suspect and determined that he was on Probation, had two outstanding warrants for his arrest, was possibly suicidal, and now was suspected of injuring his wife. Deputies entered the apartment to attempt an arrest.
As they searched for the suspect, they continuously yelled out to him that he was under arrest and to surrender. Eventually, the suspect emerged from under a bed where he was hiding covered in blankets. With Deputies at the bedroom doorway the suspect, about 10 feet away, placed a knife to his own neck saying he wanted to kill himself and that Deputies should shoot him. For at least two minutes, Deputies conversed with the suspect repeatedly advising him to drop the knife and surrender. The suspect then took a step towards the Deputies. A Deputy shot the suspect with a Taser, but it had no effect as both probes did not engage.
The suspect again stepped toward the Deputies putting them well within immediate danger from the suspect. At this point, Deputies would be justified in using deadly force to protect themselves. Instead, they tried another Taser shot which immediately immobilized the suspect. They disarmed him, and took him into custody.
The suspect was charged with Battery, Disorderly Conduct and Resisting/Obstructing an Officer and temporarily placed in a mental health facility. Through their deliberate and decisive actions, the Deputies brought peace to the apartment building and neighborhood, protected the wife from further harm, and prevented a suicide by cop incident.
As this is an open criminal case, no more details can be provided other than what is in the Criminal Complaint.
14-24397. On July 11th, 2014 at 10:52 pm, Deputies were dispatched to a residence for a man reportedly drinking, arguing with his wife and searching for his guns in the house. His wife and children, fearing for their safety, fled to a neighbor’s residence. While Deputies were enroute, the man came outside and was arguing with and pushed a neighbor in the driveway asking where his guns were. Upon the first Deputy’s arrival, the suspect fled toward his residence with the Deputy giving chase and telling the suspect to stop. When the suspect made it into his house, the Deputy stopped and took cover behind a car in the driveway. The suspect immediately appeared at the doorway with a butcher knife in his hand. The Deputy ordered him to drop the knife and come out.
After a few seconds the suspect appeared at another door, and after some dialogue came outside with the knife in his hand ordering the Deputy off his property. The Deputy drew his gun and pointed it at the suspect, advised him numerous times to drop the knife as the suspect walked toward him. The Deputy backed up approximately 90 feet to the roadway, with the suspect following him. At that moment, a second Deputy arrived and pointed his patrol rifle at the suspect also ordering him to drop the knife. The suspect was very upset at this point and requested the Deputies to shoot him. Deputies conversed with the suspect for a period of time from a distance of 12 feet, placing them in immediate danger if the suspect was to charge them.
A third Deputy then arrived on scene and approached the suspect from the side. The suspect then turned and began walking toward his house. At that point, the Deputy on the side and one from behind both fired Tasers at the suspect immediately incapacitating him. He was taken into custody.
Through great patience, deliberate decision making and good tactics, the Deputies brought peace to this neighborhood, prevented potential harm to the suspect’s wife and children and also saved this man from a suicide by cop.
This criminal case has been closed with the suspect pleading guilty to Disorderly Conduct and Resisting/Obstructing an Officer. He was sentenced to 75 days in Jail and two years of probation.
Every day, there are Deputies doing good work in the Washington County community. Tense, high stress confrontations don’t typically make the news when they end peacefully. It’s important though for Washington County residents to know Deputies do work under life and death conditions sometimes, and they perform pretty well!
SHERIFF DALE K. SCHMIDT