By: Don Holt, Retired State Patrol District Commander (Captain)
The re-establishment of law & order in Wisconsin will be a critical campaign issue in 2022. We have seen murder rates double in Milwaukee over the past year as violent crime spreads across Wisconsin. In response to these threats, we need a Republican nominee who is serious about re-establishing law and order in our state. That is why I support Kevin Nicholson in his campaign for Governor.
Before I write more about Kevin Nicholson’s plans to re-establish law and order in our state, I want to address some of the concerns I have about one of his primary opponents, Rebecca Kleefisch.
Following the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha in August 2020, Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes threw law enforcement under the bus and insinuated that Wisconsin law enforcement professionals are all racist. This is why we need to vote them out this fall.
However, after the same incident, Rebecca Kleefisch also went after the officer before any investigation had begun, let alone finished. A day after the shooting, she saw a cell phone video of the shooting and made a public statement, saying, “All I know is what I saw and what I heard, which was far too many shots for a man who had his back turned.”
Kleefisch’s comments fanned the flames and undercut the moral authority of the police. She unfairly characterized the conduct of an officer who acted within department policy during the Blake shooting.
In reality, police are legally bound to use lethal force if it is the only reasonable force under the totality of the circumstances. This is the case in order to prevent serious injury or death to themselves or others. That decision is often made under the most physically and emotionally challenging circumstances and is always subject to a thorough investigation. The force may continue until the threat has been neutralized.
Often overlooked is the legal responsibility of the person being arrested to submit to the legal actions of the police. If they have concerns, the police action may be challenged at a later time to the appropriate legal jurisdiction. Beyond that, use of force incidents will be investigated, and that is wholly appropriate.
As a retired State Patrol District Commander, I am supporting Kevin Nicholson because he understands this process. Kevin is a Marine Corps combat veteran, and I know that he understands the importance of properly investigating use of force incidents before issuing public statements about police conduct.
Furthermore, Rebecca Kleefisch’s stated plan to “surge the State Patrol” to high crime areas is naïve, not practical, and contrary to the basic responsibilities of the Wisconsin State Patrol. It would leave our highways with a lack of enforcement, resulting in an increase of traffic violations – and likely a rise in traffic fatalities.
At the present time, the State Patrol’s Trooper statutorily-authorized positions are 400 troopers, plus 112 State Patrol inspectors. Due to budget cuts and attrition, the current State Patrol strength is actually about 300 troopers, with 86 inspectors. While both troopers and inspectors have full police authority, the troopers patrol the main highways in the state, with an emphasis on 24/7 patrols of the expressways – except I-43 – and the inspectors enforce and conduct inspections of both commercial vehicle and school bus regulations.
The State Patrol has a highly mobile force. Each trooper is very well trained and is issued a patrol car. They can respond, if necessary, to any riot and/or civil disturbance or disaster within just a few hours. They have been used when requested by local agencies to assist in those major civil unrest or disaster situations. That said, the State Patrol is not in a position – just on the basis of their numbers, let alone responsibilities -to be consistently “surged” to address high crime areas of our state as a policy response to out-of-control violence and murder.
Currently, all law enforcement in our state is basically in the same situation: they are lacking personnel, funds and often the support of local officials and politicians. Local agencies are in the best position to protect Wisconsin’s residents. However, our next Governor needs to lead when it comes to making law enforcement an attractive vocation again. Our Governor must help to recruit young people into the profession, ensure that localities are investing properly in law enforcement capabilities, and encourage them to do so when they are not.
I support Kevin Nicholson for governor because he has already laid out a 5 Point Plan that will do all of the above, in addition to increasing communication between the governor and law enforcement and introducing mandatory minimums for bail and sentencing in the case of violent charges and convictions. We’re at a critical juncture when it comes to re-establishing law and order. For that reason, I invite you to join me in voting for Kevin Nicholson in what is a truly critical governor’s race for Wisconsin.
Don Holt is a retired State Patrol District Commander (Captain) and resides in Greenfield, Wisconsin.