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April 6, 2009

Listening to Law Enforcement

The state’s chief law enforcement official, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, has undertaken an effort to reach out and engage local law enforcement about how the Department of Justice and state officials can improve public safety.  It has been a privilege to host these Law Enforcement Roundtables in each of the five counties I represent.   We had local officials, judges, district attorneys, sheriffs, police officers, and victim advocates involved with law enforcement participate. 

Government’s most fundamental role is public safety.  Having local law enforcement, the Department of Justice, and state lawmakers working together is critical to improving public safety.  Some of the topics discussed at the roundtables included:

Enhance diversion programs for non-violent offenders.  Such topics include enhancing rehabilitation and alcohol/drug treatment programs and expanding drug courts.  These programs can reduce recidivism, ensure better use of taxpayer resources, and properly assess inmates.

Be aware of how law enforcement tools and programs interact.  Wisconsin has state patrol officers, county officers, and local police that all work together to enforce laws and keep communities safe.  Front license plates aid law enforcement.  Issues related to sex offender notification, tracking, and placements were discussed.

What’s working and what needs improvement.  Proposed drunk-driving legislation was analyzed.  We discussed enforcement mechanisms such as ignition interlock devices, sobriety checkpoints, and where best to increase penalties. 

I greatly valued the opportunity to discuss these issues with the people on the frontlines working to keep our communities safe.  The input provided will be valuable as we address various public safety issues in the State Senate. 

What do you think of these issues?  How can we improve law enforcement in Wisconsin?  I welcome your input and comments.  Send me an email to or call me at 1-800-862-1092.