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home : opinions : letters to the editor August 18, 2017

4/18/2017 7:29:00 AM
Letter writer questions law enforcement's approach to Sanns Street incident

To the editor:

This letter is directed to Sheriff Grady Hartman.

From the department's Facebook page: It is the mission of the Oneida County Sheriff's Office to protect the lives and property of those who live, work, and play in Oneida County.

I read with interest your news release concerning having the public inform the sheriff's office about medical conditions to prevent situations like what occurred with Mr. Smith.

The SWAT team responded fearing a hostage situation, or similar circumstance. How many hostage situations has Rhinelander, Wis. seen in the last year? Or five?

With the vast majority of 911 calls being calls for health, or fire situations, or crime situations where the alleged perpetrator has left the scene, why is it policy for the SWAT team to respond to this type of 911 call hang-up?

Why not have one or two officers approach the residence and knock. In the rare case of an actual hostage situation having officers approach this way could expose them to danger, but given the rarity of a hostage situation actually happening, shouldn't it be the officers to take the risk from the potential criminal rather than the officers automatically assuming whoever they encounter is a criminal and the innocent citizen being at risk from the officers?

Also, having a medical condition is private. Will the sheriff's office follow the HIPPA laws in protecting that information? Or is the citizen expected to give that information with no expectation of the sheriff's office is legally protecting it?

Instead of having the public be responsible for protecting themselves from the police, how about the sheriff's office enact policies and procedures that prevent officers from taking unneeded aggressive action?

Finally, how did the dispatcher make the absurd determination that there was a bomb involved? With the information provided, which wasn't much, it was an error in judgment to assume a hostage situation was going on. It should be the department's policy and practice to gather information, not to go off with little to none, and attack a man, break down a door, shoot someone, just to protect officers from "potential" harm, when if they are wrong, it will definitely harm the citizen.

I know officers want to reduce threats but sometimes it just isn't possible and the level of information an officer acts on needs to be greater and more reliable before an officer can use force. If that puts the officer at risk, that is what they signed up for when they picked up the gun, pinned on the badge, and took their oath.

Phil Textor

Dayton, Ohio

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Article comment by: don combs

Monday Night Quarter-backing is so very easy.

Posted: Friday, April 28, 2017
Article comment by: Craig Strid

Both tof your points of view are correct. Times have changed Phil. The model you are referring to has almost disappeared. That was Law Enforcement as Norman Rockwell depicted it in his art. Thats when the community knew all the officers names and the officers were integrated into the community. Officers safety depended on his back-up and once he arrived the complaint was addressed with trained safety precautions. It was risky but officers were required to handle all calls.
Now its become minimal risk and minimal community involvement. Safety is the number one priority. It has gone from grizzlies to Musk Ox.for survival. Winging it is a thing of the past. 4 Yr. college degrees eliminate High School Diplomas. It also appears that patrolling is all but diminished. Cops sitting on a stool next to a young boy at the soda fountain is now only found in past art.

Food for thought
Craig Strid

Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017
Article comment by: Tim Behselich

Mr. Roberts:

Well done. Thank you.

Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Article comment by: Mike Roberts

Mr. Textor, I would suggest that you actually read the press release you reference and the article that explains the entire situation. Also donít assume just because we are a small town, dangerous situations donít exist. Just a few weeks ago Oneida County, and Langlade County SRT teams responded to the exact situation you described in a town 45 minutes south. As two officers approached one was shot and killed. Based on the information that dispatch was receiving from the caller the response in Rhinelander was absolutely warranted. Police officers should not be expected to put themselves in avoidable dangerous situation, because "That is the JOB they signed up for" that's BS. They place themselves in danger everyday on the job, because they never know when that call will come. If those officers included, my family, my friends, or anyone else I may know or donít know. I want their commanders to act in a manner that puts their safety and the public safety as #1. By actually reading the articles you can clearly see this was done. Please donít read headlines and make assumptions, these issues are far too important to our communities. I have include links to two articles that explain exactly why what happened did.

Mike Roberts.

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