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NEWS STORIES

Marathon County Law Enforcement Problems Start at the TopSubmitted: 04/05/2013
Story By Lex Gray

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RHINELANDER - 2012 and 2013 won't go down as good years for the Marathon County Sheriff's Office.

First, in December, probation and parole officer Kim Hoenisch was fired for stealing drugs from parolees.

But Kim Hoenisch wasn't just any parole officer - she's the Sheriff's wife.

That led to more problems.

In February, the Wausau Daily Herald revealed Sheriff Randy Hoenisch booked fewer than two hours in office this year. He later announced his retirement.

Then last week, an inmate attacked two officers.

Is there a connection?

Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger said "Yes."

"I think there is a relationship, but I want to be clear that there are a lot of leaders who have made decisions here. The Sheriff was one of them, but in the end, the sheriff was the department director with primary responsibility for the jail," he said. "If there were things that weren't done or weren't done quickly or weren't done quickly enough, or well enough, I think that in the end, he doesn't report to anybody but the voters and it's at least in part his responsibility. And we'll be in a much stronger position when we get a new and effective sheriff to help lead us through this particular episode."

The county wants to make sure that new sheriff has the tools they need.

A panel of business leaders will study problems in the jail.

Karger said they already know the jail is overcrowded and has other problems.

It will be the panel's job to make recommendations about how to deal with that.

"They were picked to represent the community. They weren't picked to be jail experts," Karger said. "They were identified as key business leaders recognized as having high integrity in our community."

The panel members need to tour the jail before they meet.

Karger hopes they can start meeting next week and finalize a report by summer.

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