As I continue with reporting the activity of the Sheriff’s Department in 2023, I would like to share some data from the Patrol Division. Probably the most visible division within the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department is our Patrol Division, and it comprises of the most recognizable duties that we carry out throughout the year. There are twelve deputies assigned to the Patrol Division, which Lt. Eric Zellner supervises. The minimal staffing for Kewaunee County’s 322 square miles is two patrol deputies. When you consider the distance from Tisch Mills on our southern border and Dyckesville on our northern border you begin to understand the demands that this puts on our staff, both from the perspective of continual presence to that of response time.
If we were to look at the overall process from when a call or complaint is made to the Sheriff’s Department through its completion, the Patrol Division plays an important role. Aside from those calls which are determined to be civil in nature, and not involve an active crime, the patrol division is dispatched to every one of them, ranging from keep the peace to traffic offenses to domestics. The category for these calls is “Complaints Assigned” and in 2023, they accounted for 5037 compared to 3,264 in 2022 of the total activity. In many cases, the complaints may be occurring within one of the local jurisdictions or even involving an adjacent county, but we are requested to assist. These are categorized as “Assist Other Agencies” and accounted for 690 versus 662 in 2022.
Of these complaints that we respond to, not all result in arrest. Many times, the Deputy can mediate the situation or resolve the complaint with a warning to the perpetrator. In some cases, the evidence provided to the Deputy requires an arrest be made. In those cases where it is necessary to arrest, the total number of arrests in 2023 was 222. In 2022, the number was 281. While this number may seem low, these calls tend to be very involved and require a great deal of the Deputy’s time in follow-up and documentation.
The most commonly perceived duty of the Patrol Deputy is, of course, traffic enforcement, although it accounts for very little of the overall time spent in a given shift due to the demands of call response. In 2023, there were 1689 citations and 1808 warnings issued, which is compared to 1949 Citations issued in 2022 along with 2033 Warnings. The main reason for the stark decrease in these numbers, is that in 2022 we received a safety grant focusing on speed enforcement. This allowed us to put on additional hours dedicated to just traffic enforcement.
We like to approach traffic enforcement from an educational perspective and, when possible, try to achieve the learning experience through warnings. Unfortunately, there are times when either the offense is so egregious, or the individual has already been given the courtesy of a warning that a citation is unavoidable. It is important for people to realize that Deputies do not enjoy issuing citations any more than the person on the receiving end. Our ultimate goal is always public safety.
Some of the duties that the Patrol Division carries out, which may not be as commonly known, are those related to civil process. By statute, the Sheriff’s Department is tasked with carrying out actions that result from our circuit court judge’s orders. These can range from eviction actions, actions in support of a writ, or even involvement in child custody orders. We are also part of the notification to those involved in these actions through the service of papers or notices. These “Papers Served or Attempted” account for 498 of the calls in the past year., whereas last year the number was 419.
The two final categories are what I would consider Customer Service. They are “Citizen Assists” and “Property Checks”. The category of citizen assists is for the most part unplanned events which are a result of an unfortunate circumstance on the part of the citizen. These can range from stranded motorists to providing information regarding vehicle registration or licensing. Deputies handled 527 citizen assists last year compared to 448 in 2023. Property checks are a service we provide when requested from individuals in our community who may be away from their homes for an extended period of time or an additional amount of attention we may give to a property that has been the victim of a recent criminal act and the owner would like us to monitor activities in their area. In 2023, we conducted 3,483 such checks, compared to 3,299 the previous year. A final category that our Patrol Division responds to is; “Welfare Checks”. These are calls where a loved one or neighbor has not heard from or had contact with the person involved and is asking our assistance in verifying their well-being or status. Fortunately, the outcome is mostly that they were gone on vacation or just too busy to get back to the person checking on them. Our department responded to 123 such requests in 2023, which is up from 115 in 2022.
I hope that the takeaway from this article is that when you see a Sheriff’s Department squad, you have a better understanding of the many different duties that these men and women engage in on a given shift. In all of these numbers, the most important element is the relationship that we have with those whom we serve. All the data and statistics mean nothing if we do not have the support of our community, and it is our goal to maintain a high level of professionalism for those we have sworn to protect and serve!