RHINELANDER - Last month's inmate attack on a corrections officer in Marathon County raised concerns about safety in our county jails. But it also made us curious about the responsibility of looking after inmates.
Jailers don't do their jobs out in the open like patrol officers. The average person might not know what the job entails unless they know a jailer, or spend a lot of time in jail.
Imagine having a job where nobody but your coworkers are happy to see you.
"Nobody really wants to have contact with you. You have inmates who aren't happy to be here, clearly," says Sandra Ladu-Ives, Acting Oneida County Jail Administrator.
Learning not to take it personally is one of the first lessons for a corrections officer.
"There can be a lot of days where morale gets low because of the activities of inmates," says Ladu-Ives.
These Oneida County jailers say keeping inmates in line is just the beginning of their responsibilities. An officer with the county was recently awarded "Jailer of the Year" for stopping three suicides in as many months. They say you can't accomplish that without building a rapport with inmates.
"We have to have a rapport. You can still remain professional and not get too personal, but at the same time have empathy, have some compassion, and be alert to what's going on," says Daniel Huettl, an Oneida County Corrections Officer.
"There's a lot of people coming in here who are at the lowest point of their life. You have to really be keen to their needs," says Ladu-Ives.
Watching out for an inmate's well-being and treating them with dignity, while keeping vigilant every minute for your own safety, can be a fine line to walk. It's something Marathon County was reminded of last month. One of their officers is still in a coma from an attack.
"You can be standing there talking to somebody one minute and the next minute they hear something that you said or maybe that they didn't want to hear. And that can make someone flip a switch," says Ladu-Ives.
"I teach my officers, my trainees, not to be hyper-vigilant. We don't want them jumping around like a cat on a hot tin roof, but we want them to be relaxed but alert," says Huettl.
It's a big task. With a capacity of 209 inmates, there could be as few as six officers on duty. But balancing watching out for, and keeping safe from inmates is something these officers believe in.
"It's a profession. And it's something that you really have to believe in and really have to have a heart for," says Ladu-Ives.
"I think I can speak for everybody here: we try to send people back out into the community in better condition than we found them," says Huettl.
EAGLE RIVER - Soccer players may need to wait for the snow on their fields to melt. But they know cabin fever is starting to set in, and it's the perfect time to capitalize on it.
The 7th annual Cabin Fever Indoor Soccer Tournament kicked off today at Northland Pines High School. The event raises money for the schoolís boy's and girl's soccer teams.
"This was an opportunity to have an indoor soccer program so the kids can do something in the winter," says tournament director Steve Gilbert. "There was a need for a fundraiser so we thought why not have a tournament. There are other tournaments in the region, why not have one here with this tremendous facility that we have here at Pines."
Nearly 100 5th through 8th graders played in the co-ed soccer matches. Their participation makes it possible for the team to buy new equipment.
"It allows us to buy things that maybe the school can't afford to buy for them, so different types of warm-ups, equipment out on the field," says Gilbert. "One time we bought a camera for them so we could film their games. So it's going to good causes."
RHINELANDER - Wisconsinís attorney general enforces and defends laws made by the state, but one of Wisconsinís candidates for the position believes his opponents will only pick and choose.
Right now Republican Candidate Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, faces three Democrats, Rep. Jon Richards, Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne. Richards represents a portion of Milwaukee in the State Assymbly. Happ is the Jefferson County District Attorney. Ozanne is the Dane County District Attorney.
Schimel says some of his opponents, especially Richard will only enforce laws they agree with.
"That's problematic and I believe that's not what the attorney general should be doing, that's a crusade, that's a policy maker," Schimel said. "If Rep. Richards wants to do that then he should stay in the legislature."
Richards has been in the Legislature since 1998.
Newswatch 12 asked him Friday if he would pick and choose laws to enforce.
He said heíd look at the constitution to determine how he would enforce laws in Wisconsin.
"I can grantee you there are plenty of laws that I voted against that I will end up enforcing and making sure that we implement," Richards said, "And there are some laws that I think clearly violate the U-S constitution or the state constitution and we'll be taking a hard look at those."
Democratic candidates Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne were not available before running this story.
Richards was touring the Northwoods Friday talking to media and district attorneys in the area.
The Democratic primary is set for August 12th. Election day is Nov. 4, 2014.
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