Supporting Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement – In Body and Mind
Supporting Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement – In Body and Mind
As top cop and head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), one of my core duties is to provide support to law enforcement in Wisconsin, whether that’s by providing training to officers, helping law enforcement close cases through the state crime lab, and providing crime statistics. Often left unmentioned, however, is support for law enforcement’s wellness.
As attorney general, I promised the officers in this state that I would support them not just in investigations and grant money, but I also promised to help our state’s law enforcement maintain a healthy body and mind.
The deadly truth is: a police officer is more likely to die of suicide than homicide. And for every police suicide, there are more officers struggling with PTSD.
At DOJ, we recognize this truth, and we’re supporting Wisconsin law enforcement by increasing our dedication to officer wellness – both in body and mind.
A healthy mind begins with a healthy body – so we’ve added 34 hours of physical fitness to our recruit academy. We have also developed tools so current officers can enhance their physical readiness.
To prepare officers mentally and emotionally, we have increased training hours in stress management, healthy relationships, and financial stability. DOJ personnel are also now trained as suicide prevention program instructors and so far, these personnel have trained nearly 900 law enforcement personnel across the state.
Chaplains also play an important role in law enforcement agencies and communities, offering critical emotional support to law enforcement and victims. So we’re giving chaplains in Wisconsin the tools they need, by establishing a first-of-its-kind statewide training resource for chaplains.
Internally at DOJ, we are supporting our own staff and law enforcement. Since 2012, DOJ has had a support team available to our Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) staff, and our Internet Crimes Against Children staff have mandatory wellness reviews twice per year. We are also currently working to expand our own wellness sessions at DCI staff in-service trainings, and we are establishing a chaplain program.
This September, during National Suicide Prevention Month, I ask law enforcement executives across to the state to reach out to DOJ’s Training & Standards Bureau for more information about how we can help improve officer wellness in your agency.
If you are a law enforcement officer, dispatcher, or Wisconsin citizen who finds yourself struggling with suicidal thoughts, I urge you to seek help from support systems around you, or receive free, confidential support at any time by calling 1-800-273-8255.
Wisconsin Seniors Have Been Ignored Too Long
Over the next two decades, Wisconsin’s 65 and older population will increase by 72%, and one in nine seniors have reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the past twelve months. Sadly, this group is seen by criminals as vulnerable and easily exploitable. With this rapidly growing population, we must act with urgency to protect our loved ones from becoming the target of financial, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
To combat this abuse, I announced the creation of a task force to combat elder abuse in Wisconsin.
The Task Force on Elder Abuse is charged with compiling the resources and knowledge of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to study the impact of elder abuse in Wisconsin and assess ways to improve outcomes for this growing population of citizens. In addition to developing strategies to address barriers in investigation and prosecutions of elder abuse, the task force will strengthen consumer protection for seniors and create recommendations for improved cross-system communications.
Ask the Office of Open Government: Fees for Records
Question: An authority will not provide me with the records I requested unless I pay a fee. Is this allowed under the law?
Answer: The Wisconsin Public Records Law permits an authority to impose a fee upon a requester but only for four specific tasks. An authority may charge for the following: (1) Reproduction and transcription of a record (this includes fees for copies); (2) photographing and photographic processing of a record; (3) locating a record; and (4) mailing or shipping a record. Although an authority is allowed to charge for these four tasks, the fee cannot exceed the actual, necessary, and direct cost of completing these tasks. An authority may not make a profit on its response to a public records request. The amount of such fees may vary depending on the authority. For example, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charges $0.15 per page for a hard copy of a record while other authorities may charge more or less. (Although anything in excess of $0.25 per page may be suspect.)
While the law permits an authority to impose a fee for locating records, it may only do so if the cost is $50.00 or more. Locating a record means to find it by searching, examining, or experimenting. Generally, the rate for an actual, necessary, and direct charge for staff time (such as for locating a record) should be based on the pay rate of the lowest paid employee capable of performing the task. Additionally, an authority may require prepayment for the costs associated with responding to a public records request if the total amount exceeds $5.00. An authority may not charge for the time it takes to redact records.
Within the public records law, there is no specific indigency provision. However, an authority has discretion to provide requested records for free or at a reduced charge if it determines that doing so is in the public interest. It is up to each authority to determine whether or not to reduce its fees or waive them altogether.
Finally, other statutes may establish express exceptions to the general fee provisions of the public records law. For example, court records and records recorded by registers of deeds have fees set by other specific statutes. For additional information, please see DOJ’s Wisconsin Public Records Law Compliance Guide available through the Office of Open Government’s webpage.
September Oral Arguments in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Dassey v. Dittman
A Wisconsin jury found Brendan Dassey guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault, and mutilation of a corpse. Dassey filed a timely petition for writ of habeas corpus and it was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The state appealed the decision, and a panel for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of Dassey’s habeas petition. The state requested review of that decision from the entire court, and the court agreed. The entire Seventh Circuit will rehear the case for habeas, which will be argued by Deputy Solicitor General Luke Berg.
International Association of Machinists v. Allen
Wisconsin's checkoff-agreements law provides that a union dues deduction is illegal unless the employer has an employee’s signed authorization to make the deduction. The authorization is terminable by the employee giving the employer at least 30 days’ written notice of the termination. Under federal law, however, a written dues check-off assignment shall not be irrevocable for a period of one year. International Association of Machinists rejected one employee’s request to revoke her checkoff authorization since such notice was not presented in compliance with the federal law. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) found that the employee’s notice was timely in accordance with state law. The union sought to suppress the DWD’s decision, claiming that federal law rather than state law should apply to the notice requirements. The union argued that Supreme Court decisions have settled that federal law preempts state regulation of checkoff agreements with no subsequent doctrinal developments, and therefore, federal law should apply. The state argued that the decision only applies to field preemption but not conflict preemption, and therefore, the state law should apply. This case will be argued by Chief Deputy Solicitor General Ryan Walsh.
Restoration Risk Retention Group, Inc. v. Ross
Wisconsin requires dwelling contractors to demonstrate their financial responsibility by maintaining a minimum insurance policy from an insurer authorized to do business in Wisconsin. A contractor sought to meet this requirement with an insurance policy from Restoration Risk Retention Group, a Vermont-based risk retention group that is not licensed in Wisconsin. After consulting with the Insurance Commissioner, the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) deferred to the Insurance Commissioner’s conclusion that unlicensed insurers are not authorized to do business in Wisconsin. After all, unlicensed insurers “do not guarantee . . . financial solvency” as effectively as do licensed insurers and thus do not adequately serve the purposes of the “financial responsibility” law—protecting any injured clients from the risks of the contractor’s insolvency.
The court will consider whether DSPS misinterpreted state law when it deferred to the Insurance Commissioner’s longstanding view that an insurer is not “authorized to do business in Wisconsin if it does not have a certificate of authority from the Insurance Commissioner; and, whether the Liability Risk Retention Act does not preempt states’ sovereign authority to require in-state service providers to maintain a minimum level of insurance from a state-licensed insurer. This case will be argued by Deputy Solicitor General Luke Berg.
September Oral Arguments in the Wisconsin Supreme Court
State v. Frederick S. Smith
A police officer stopped defendant-appellant Frederick Smith’s vehicle after a records check indicated that the registered owner of the vehicle had a suspended license. When the officer approached the vehicle, he realized that Smith was not the female registered owner. When the officer reached the vehicle, Smith indicated that the driver’s side door and window were broken. In response, the officer walked around the vehicle and opened the passenger side door to speak with Smith. As soon as the officer made face-to-face contact with Smith, the officer noticed signs of intoxication and eventually arrested Smith for driving while intoxicated.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider: When the reasonable suspicion supporting a lawful traffic stop is dispelled before the police officer makes contact with the vehicle’s driver, is it nonetheless reasonable for the officer to make contact with the driver to ask for the driver’s name and identification and to explain the basis for the stop? When a police officer encounters a driver during a lawful traffic stop who indicates that the driver’s door and window are both broken, is the officer permitted to open the passenger’s side door of the vehicle to make face-to-face contact with the driver?
This case was argued by Assistant Attorney General Tiffany Winter.
State v. Jose Alberto Reyes Fuerte
In 2002, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that the harmless error principle does not apply to a state statute that requires circuit courts to inform defendants that their pleas may carry immigration consequences before the court accepts a guilty or no contest plea. In 2014, Jose Alberto Reyes Fuerte pleaded guilty to fleeing/eluding an officer and second-offense operating a motor vehicle under the influence of restricted controlled substance. Reyes Fuerte was already in deportation proceedings for other reasons at the time he entered his plea. Before Reyes Fuerte entered his pleas the circuit court warned him that his conviction could lead to deportation but omitted other parts of the required statutory warning. In 2015, Reyes Fuerte filed to withdraw his pleas on the grounds that the circuit court’s immigration warning did not satisfy Wisconsin statute.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider: now that criminal defense attorneys are obligated to advise their clients about the immigration consequences of their pleas, Padilla v. Kentucky (2010), should the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturn its decision in State v. Douangmala (2002), and reinstate the harmless error rule to prohibit a defendant who was aware of the potential immigration consequences of his plea from being able to withdraw the plea based on the circuit court’s failure to give a statutory immigration warning that complied with state statute?
This case was argued by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Kumfer.
DNR v. Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV
In 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources renewed the Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit of Kinnard Farms. Private individuals challenged DNR’s decision and an administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that the Department could reissue Kinnard’s permit only if two conditions were attached. The DNR concluded that the conditions mandated by the ALJ did not meet state standards, and renewed Kinnard’s permit without them. Clean Wisconsin then successfully sued DNR in Dane County Circuit Court over its refusal to impose the ALJ’s conditions.
The state appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, pursuant to Wisconsin’s venue statute. However, District IV moved the case to its own docket, an action that the State argues violated the venue statute. The state has appealed this action to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, while the case itself remains pending in the court of appeals. The issue of the case being moved to District IV will be argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Deputy Solicitor General Kevin LeRoy.
State v. Ginger M. Breitzman
A jury found Ginger Breitzman guilty of two counts of physical abuse of a child (intentionally causing bodily harm), neglecting a child, and disorderly conduct. Breitzman challenged her convictions on several grounds, including several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Both the circuit court and the court of appeals rejected Breitzman’s claim that her counsel was ineffective for (a) failing to move to dismiss the disorderly conduct prosecution on free speech grounds, (b) failing to object to the admission of other acts evidence, and (c) arguing a theory of defense in his opening statement that was purportedly inconsistent with Breitzman’s trial testimony.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider: Did Breitzman prove that her counsel was ineffective for failing to move to dismiss the disorderly conduct charge on free speech grounds because she failed to establish as a matter of settled law that she had a right to engage in profane conduct under circumstances that tended to cause or provoke a disturbance? Did Breitzman prove that her counsel was ineffective for not objecting to the admission of other acts evidence? Did Breitzman prove that her counsel was ineffective when he argued a theory of defense in his opening statement that Breitzman claims contradicted her anticipated testimony? Did Breitzman prove that counsel’s errors, if any, resulted in cumulative prejudice that undermined confidence in the outcome of her trial?
State v. Brian Grandberry
Brian Grandberry was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon after police discovered a loaded handgun in the glove compartment of the car he was driving. Wisconsin’s concealed carry statute generally prohibits individuals who do not have a concealed carry license from going armed with a concealed dangerous weapon, and Grandberry did not have a concealed carry license. He argues that he did not violate the concealed carry statute because Wisconsin’s statute relating to safe transport of weapons in vehicles (the vehicle statute), which provides that “no person may place, possess, or transport a firearm . . . in or on a vehicle, unless . . . [t]he firearm is unloaded or is a handgun,” allows an individual who does not have a concealed carry license to carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider: If the vehicle statute allows an individual to possess a loaded handgun in a vehicle, does that mean the evidence was insufficient to convict Grandberry of violating the concealed carry statute? Is the concealed carry statute void for vagueness as applied to Grandberry because the vehicle statute permitted him to transport a loaded handgun in his car? This case will be argued by Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Kassel.
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