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Harsdorf Column: Law Enforcement Roundtables

Thursday, August 21st, 2008 at 7:16 am

Law Enforcement Roundtables and Public Safety

Public safety is one of the most basic responsibilities of government. Local law enforcement is on the frontlines working to make our neighborhoods safe. The state’s Department of Justice offers support and technical assistance to these local efforts. Bringing these groups together in northwest Wisconsin to address local issues and discuss suggestions to improve public safety was the goal of recent law enforcement roundtables held recently in Burnett, Pierce, and St. Croix Counties with Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

The roundtables in Burnett, St. Croix and Pierce Counties were co-hosted by myself and area state representatives from both political parties. Numerous issues were raised, including funding, programming, and successes. It was a great opportunity to get feedback about how state government can better help local law enforcement in protecting our communities. As importantly, it marked an opportunity for northwest Wisconsin to have direct interaction with state officials. Common issues raised included financial resources, the need for qualified prosecutors, working across state lines, and utilizing shared technology to create efficiencies. The various communities represented raised a variety of questions and suggestions.

Local involvement and state action are critical to improving public safely. For example, local law enforcement and community leaders deserve great credit for their work in combating meth. The approach to fighting meth used a variety of tools – be it education, enforcement, and rehabilitation measures – that required both active state and local involvement. Drug courts, community outreach, and state legislation have all added to the success in fighting meth, with meth cases down 60% since 2005 in the seven-county region. We need to replicate these partnerships to ensure safe communities.

I look forward to having Attorney General Van Hollen visit Polk and Dunn Counties to hold similar roundtables to hear directly from law enforcement in those communities. I welcome your input of these or other issues. Please feel free to contact me via email at Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov or by calling toll-free in Wisconsin 1-800-862-1092

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