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.
We'll take you live to the Vilas County Courthouse for day 3 of the trial for 36-year-old Rodney Teets who is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at knife point in July 2015.
The Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness wants to work with landlords to help people get back on their feet. We talk to the housing program team leader about a meeting coming up in Rhinelander that will allow landlords to share information that can help the homeless find places to rent.
And we talk with The Forest County Health Department director about a program that is encouraging people to limit their time with TV, computers, iPhones and other types of screens for a week.
We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.
TOMAHAWK - Unless you find yourself in trouble, you don't usually sit down and talk with a cop.
The Tomahawk Police Department held its monthly Coffee with a Cop meeting Wednesday morning.
It gives people the chance to pull up a chair and talk to Chief Al Elvins about their questions or concerns.
Those concerns change with the season.
Warmer weather means kids will be out of school soon and there'll be more foot traffic.
And don't forget about those motorcycles.
"Watch out for the motorcycles. So often they hit a blind spot on us and you don't see them. If you are driving a bike, be aware of your surroundings. Remember that four wheels don't always see your two wheels," said Chief Elvins.
The city's drug takeback will be open all day on Saturday. The department does it twice a year.
You can bring in any over the counter or prescription drugs to the station's drop-off box.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says he hopes President Donald Trump's aggressive negotiating style will get Canadian officials to delay policy changes that will evaporate the demand for Wisconsin milk producers.
Walker said Wednesday that Trump's retaliatory move to impose tariffs on Canadian lumber was aggressive but appreciated.
Dozens of Wisconsin dairy farmers lost a market for their milk after Canada announced plans to change its dairy pricing policy to favor domestic milk.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry hopes you'll sample some of the area's best salads and win some prizes on Saturday.
The pantry is hosting the Garden Fresh Salad Bowl event at Holiday Acres. It's a fundraiser for the pantry, and several local restaurants are participating.
"It should be a very nice event. It's a beautiful setting," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hansen. "We've got 12 different restaurants that have contributed salads toward this."
About half of the crowd will win handcrafted door prizes from the Northwoods Turners. The event runs from 11 to 1. Tickets are available at the food pantry, CT's Deli, Forth Floral, and People's State Bank.
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