The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department is busier than usual this year, and it is not because of a crime spree.
Sheriff Matt Joski says the area has seen a reduction in most areas of crime, but dispatch staff is still fielding plenty of 911 calls. The majority of calls now are more for “keeping the peace” when deputies are requested to standby while people exchange property or children. The deputies are there to make sure the two parties are peacefully interacting with each other and not turning what should be a civil matter into a criminal one.
Joski says they are happy to assist, but it does stretch their staff thin for something that often puts their deputies in an awkward place.
Joski compliments his deputies for sometimes serving the role of a counselor to help keep a situation from escalating. You can read more about how Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Deputies “keep the peace" below:
As I look at the calls from the previous days, there appears to be a steady flow of calls relating to a specific nature; Keep the Peace. These calls are typically a request to have a Deputy stand by while individuals are transferring property, or in some cases children which the two parties have had in common, but are now unable to peacefully interact so as to make these transactions. These calls are not involving criminal behavior but rather for the most part, civil law.
The topic of civil laws versus criminal laws and the extent to which we are able to assist in a matter which is civil in nature continues to cause some confusion, and places law enforcement officers in unnecessary circumstances in which they feel obligated to assist, but cannot.
I have been asked many times about how busy we are in law enforcement recently. I am assuming that people are curious as to how many major crimes take place, or what the trend is in comparison to past years. In recent years we have seen a reduction in most areas of crime; however, our calls for service continue to increase. Some of the most frequent calls for service relate to civil matters. These calls involve things such as child custody, property disputes, eviction orders, and restraining orders. I would like to focus on these civil calls, as they not only seem to be increasing, but they bring with them some misunderstanding of law enforcement's role in regards to them.
Generally, there are two classifications of legal process; criminal, and civil. Those of us in law enforcement focus on criminal, as that is our primary purpose. We do however assist in civil calls in support of court orders. Primarily this is in the capacity of keeping the peace. We may keep the peace as one party removes their property in response to an eviction, or recent separation. We may keep the peace as property is being recovered as part of repossession. We may also keep the peace as children are being transferred from one parent to another.
You may notice a theme running through these and that is our obligation to keep the peace. Many times officers are asked for advice, opinions, or recommendations. These unfortunately put the officers in a tough situation, as they may in fact have opinions, or good advice to give. It is best we stick to the purpose for which we are there for, and that again is to keep the peace.
If you find yourself in a situation where law enforcement is summoned to respond in support of a court order, or just to keep the peace, please understand and respect the capacity, in which that officer is serving.