Back in April of 2022 I announced my candidacy to run for Sheriff of Sheboygan County. At the beginning, I was hoping to have a campaign based on issues which are of concern for the community and for the employees of the Sheriff’s Office. However, that quickly changed with the current Sheriff’s attempt to smear my name. But I have since moved on and will continue to focus on the issues that I feel need to be addressed for our entire community.
Working for the Sheriff’s Office for 21 years, I can tell you first hand that the department, and its connection with its citizens has become stagnant. I have numerous ideas I would like to bring forward and subsequently implement if elected. As running as an independent candidate, with trying to keep politics out of policing, I strongly believe that the Sheriff’s main focus should be on the safety and security of all citizens of the county they serve without focusing on one party or another. It is my belief that the office of the Sheriff should be a non-partisan position. There is also an issue within the department itself because of a “good ol’ boys club”. The focus on the best interests of the community, and on the employees that serve that community gets lost when politics take precedence.
Growing up in Sheboygan County and working with the Sheriff’s department for 21 years, I’m aware there are numerous concerns throughout the community. These include but are not limited to the mental health crisis, the opioid epidemic, human trafficking, and community relations with the Sheriff’s Office. Internally the Sheriff’s Office is also having issues which include employee retention, staffing shortages, and overall employee satisfaction. If elected, I will make it a point to uncover and work on other issues within the community and the department that our citizens and deputies are facing.
As well, please be sure to vote on November 8th!
- Train Deputies to Deal With Mental Health Cases
- Involve Local and State Agencies for Assistance
- Leverage Technology to Assist Sheriffs Department
- Target Known Pathways Into Community
- Work With Parcel Delivery for Inspection
- Work With Judicial System for Appropriate Sentencing
- Devote a Full Time Deputy to This
- Reach Out to Local and State Resources for Assistance
- Devote Training to Deputies for Awareness and Identification
- Request Input From All Sheboygan County Residents
- Return Power to Deputies to Interact in a Positive Manner With Community
- Collaborate with Community Organizations to Bolster Pride in Sheboygan County
The Mental Health Crisis
We all have to remember that crises do not happen because somebody is weak or has “cracked.” It often signals problems with services as well with support, not with the person’s ability to deal with their issues. Each situation is different from person to person, and somebody in a self-defined crisis should never be turned away from services. This is where the Sheriff’s Office, along with other area support services need to step up.
Currently the Sheriff’s Office has members who are involved in the CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) whose services are second to none. However, these team members are not used to their ability and training. If elected, I plan on using this team to its full ability. At the Sheriff’s Office there are numerous special teams, which include SWAT, Dive Team, etc. However, there are no special teams that focus solely on mental health issues.
This needs to change.
It has been my experience that many of the calls where Deputies are dispatched, include some sort of mental health issue. Part of my agenda and vision for the future of the Sheriff’s department is to have a number of Deputies highly trained to deal with the severe mental health cases. And like the other special teams, there would be a call out procedure if none of the trained Deputies are working.
Along with having more highly skilled training for Deputies, I would also focus on getting other agencies involved in the solution for dealing with persons in a crisis. There are many other resources the Sheriff’s Office could reach out to which could include The Department of Social Services, The Department of Health and Human Services, The Veterans Affairs Office, The Aging and Disability Resource Center, our local hospitals and other private services. A cumulative effort between the Sheriff’s Office and the above listed resources will provide a greater service to anyone suffering a mental illness.
I would also set up a program where a community member can report to and upload information about their loved one to a secure and voluntary registry. There have been too many incidents where law enforcement officers mistake someone who has a mental health condition or is suffering from a mental health crisis, as being combative due to their reaction or response. Sometimes, these individuals can be triggered by the police response. For instance, emergency lights and sirens may cause a person in crisis to become frightened, confused, and have difficulty following instructions, thus appearing to officers to be resistive. With more information available, the Deputy responding could have the tools that he or she might need to deal with the situation at hand.
The Opioid Epidemic
As well as the Mental Health Crisis, we all have to remember the addiction to opioids is not always because the addicted person is weak. This issue is a huge nationwide epidemic and has a stronghold within Sheboygan County. When I started with the Sheriff’s Office the epidemic had just started. However, in the 21 years since, the Sheriff’s Office has not kept up with the times in its efforts to do whatever is possible to assist in this matter.
To start, illegal narcotics, not just limited to opioids, make their way to Sheboygan County in one of three ways. Either by land, air or waterways. Or in better words, in a vehicle, via the mail or by boat. The Sheriff’s Office currently employs two Deputies who have narcotic detection K9 units as well as many Deputies trained in drug interdiction. This is a great start; however, until these units are used to their highest abilities, their potential is unknown. As Sheriff, I would start a team with these aforementioned Deputies and target the highway and byways of Sheboygan County in the attempt to catch these drugs prior to their destination.
As mentioned, another way for illegal narcotics to enter Sheboygan County is via the mail. This is by any of the parcel delivery systems including, but not limited to, The United State Postal Service, UPS, and FedEX. I would start an initiative to work with all of the local branches of these services in the attempt to identify, locate, and stop illegal narcotics being delivered. There is also the possibility that our K9 Units, as well as other K9 Units in the area, will assist in this manner.
The third way is through our waterways. While throughout my years at the Sheriff’s Office I am not aware of any known cases of this occurring in Sheboygan County, it would not be surprising to me if this method has been used. We in Sheboygan County are blessed to have an amazing shoreline that borders one side of our county. We have to also be aware then that drug dealers know this as well. I would like to have the Sheriff’s Office work closely with the United States
Coast Guard when it comes to this matter. Not only in the patrol of the waters of Sheboygan County, but also through information sharing when it comes to any possible drugs being delivered by the waterways.
The Sheriff’s Office is already a member of the Sheboygan County Multi-jurisdictional Drug Unit (MEG Unit). This unit consists of the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division, The Sheboygan Police Department, The Plymouth Police Department and The Sheboygan Falls Police Department. Unfortunately this unit is over tasked and understaffed. I would like to expand on this unit to assist in its efficiency and intelligence gathering. In addition to the two Deputies assigned to the MEG Unit, I would recommend adding a Sheriff’s Office supervisor to the team to make sure the cases assigned and investigated include the outlying areas of the county, not just in the City of Sheboygan. Along with this, I would like to utilize the talents of the Correctional Staff of the Sheriff’s Office, whose ability to obtain information from inmates is very reliable. This information would be not only beneficial to the MEG Unit, but also to other ongoing investigations occurring in all local jurisdictions.
I would also evaluate and work in partnership with the judicial system when it comes to the opioid epidemic. I believe there are times where people do need to receive jail or prison time when it comes to the possession of an opioid, or other illegal narcotics. However, I also believe when it comes to opioids there could be alternatives to incarceration. When I mention this, I am not talking about dealers of this deadly drug. What I am talking about is the mainline users, who are the people dying as a result of this epidemic. I believe with the cooperation between the courts, District Attorney’s Office, The Sheriff’s Office, and the vast amount of resources provided to the county, both public and private, a system could be worked out where we could all focus on the recovery of people instead of the normal recidivism of jail/prison.
As much as I would like to believe that this horrible and inhumane act is not occurring in Sheboygan County, I would only be turning a blind eye. A report I read states that nearly 92 percent of law enforcement agencies reported a connection between human trafficking and other criminal networks such as drug trafficking and prostitution.
I am aware the Sheriff’s Office is currently involved in the Sheboygan County Human Trafficking Task Force, which is a group of professionals combating human trafficking throughout the community. I will never be able to thank these professionals enough for the work they do. However, I think the Sheriff’s Office can contribute more. Currently, the Detective assigned to this area is only assigned to it on a part-time basis. I would like to offer a Detective of the Sheriff’s Office to work on this issue on a full time basis. Doing this, I believe, would be beneficial to the task force, and more importantly to the community as a whole.
As well as dedicating a Detective full time, I would also reach out to the State in asking for any assistance from the Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). I have worked with members of DCI who are fully invested in the fight against human trafficking. Their assistance would, and should be more than welcome to The Sheboygan Sheriff’s Office.
As mentioned earlier, I would also look to the assistance of the Sheriff’s Office Correctional staff and their contacts inside the correctional division. I believe their assistance in talking with inmates could identify victims of human trafficking, who are rare to come forward with their issues because of fear of retaliation against them.
Since human trafficking is very difficult to identify, I would make sure all Deputies receive proper and adequate training when it comes to identifying signs of human trafficking. I would also make sure this training would involve the Deputies knowing what the next proper steps to take would be after the identification of a victim of human trafficking.
It has been my observation, along with Deputies, and retired Deputies, that the Sheriff’s Office has been behind the eight ball when it comes to community relations. All of the main focuses of my campaign’s agenda have a strong connection to our community and the challenges that we all face. Improving the relations with our community can help address the issues on a closer level by working together.
The current state of our strained community relations has only advanced with the leadership of the current Sheriff. This will be addressed in the very beginning of my term when elected Sheriff. Community involvement has been heralded as a productive way to rebuild trust between the public and police.
For this to succeed, The Sheriff’s Office needs to build ongoing collaborative relationships with the people we serve. This needs to be done both collectively and with respect to distinct ethnographic groups. It is my belief, no matter who is being talked to, the real thing everyone wants is a safe community.
Sheboygan County is blessed to be such a large and diverse community. I would make it a top priority to reach out to the community to obtain their input on what they believe to be the good, and the bad of the Sheriff’s Office. These are things that we can only learn from, while making us better and more accessible to the community.
Along with this, I would also like to give the power back to the Deputies to get involved in the areas where they patrol. The Deputy is the backbone of the Sheriff’s Office, and who is seen in the community everyday. It will be needed for these Deputies to feel empowered to take the time in interacting with the community. This is as simple as getting out of their squad car to get a cup of lemonade from a stand, playing basketball with kids on a playground, all the way to working with the community in solving and preventing crimes in their neighborhoods. When there is a mutual respect, trust, and understanding between the citizens of the community and the law enforcement departments, a safer and more prosperous community can prevail.
I will encourage collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, other law enforcement agencies, schools, churches, community organizations, and the Sheboygan County citizens which will result in productive relationships, forward-thinking initiatives, and positive outcomes for everyone in Sheboygan County. This is the approach needed to be implemented in order to tackle the mental health crisis, the opioid epidemic, human trafficking, and other critical issues we face as a community.