The Platteville Police Department has released its annual report for 2013.
The report can be read at http://platteville.org/w/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2013-Police-Department-Annual-Report.pdf.
The overriding themes for the past year focused on alcohol issues and their impact on quality of life issues in the city. Internally we dealt with the turnover of two supervisory positions. Moving forward we anticipate issues related to the increased abuse of heroin and prescription medications.
In late 2012 the Common Council established a number of recommendations they wanted city staff to research and pursue in order to reduce the impact of alcohol related issues within the city.
One of these recommendations resulted in the closure of North Second Street from Main Street to Mineral Street to traffic and parking from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week. This was done to improve pedestrian safety near the taverns. Other options were explored for implementing the closure of Second Street, but ultimately it was determined that an ordinance with signs in the area, to alert the public to the closure, was the best way to improve pedestrian safety, while still allowing needed access to emergency and delivery vehicles and residents of the area.
A second recommendation resulted in the adoption of a public intoxication ordinance. The ordinance is designed to be based on observable signs of intoxication, like the inability to stand up, passed-out individuals, vomiting, etc. rather than on chemical tests to determine intoxication.
The need for the ordinance stems from the many instances in which our officers end up dealing with people who are in need of assistance due to their voluntary overconsumption of alcohol. Overly intoxicated individuals are prone to injuries due to falls and walking into traffic. Each winter we end up finding people who have passed out in alleys, yards and even in the street. Highly intoxicated individuals are also at risk of being victimized by others since they are not as aware of their surroundings or the situations in which they find themselves. Finally, alcohol poisoning can occur, resulting in respiratory problems, aspiration and other medical issues. It is hoped that this ordinance will encourage more responsible use of alcohol, and the early returns are that it is achieving the desired effect.
Internally we saw two veteran sergeants leave as Kevan Norin retired and Todd Kasper accepted a similar position with the Grant County Sheriff’s Department. Fortunately we had previously established an eligibility pool for these positions and we were able to promote their successors in short order. Andrea Droessler and Matt Harcus, who have both been with our department for more than 12 years, were placed in these positions and they’re already fitting into their leadership roles well.
The prospect of increased heroin use looms as we begin 2014. We’ve already seen a fatal overdose here in 2012, along with other signs that heroin use in the Tri-State area and Wisconsin as a whole is on the increase. In order to combat this we will employ the three-prong strategy that has served us and the Richland–Iowa–Grant Drug Task Force well previously with methamphetamine and ecstasy: prevention, education and enforcement. Attacking this issue in all three areas allows for a comprehensive response to an issue which threatens to have devastating consequences. Keep watching for updates on upcoming presentations in Platteville and the area on heroin and its impact on individuals and their communities.
We try to anticipate the issues which will be prevalent in the near future and beyond but if the past is any guide, we will also experience new challenges and opportunities that will make 2014 unique and memorable.