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Langlade Co. DA's office to focus more on victims, meth epidemic by adding additional prosecutorSubmitted: 01/01/2019
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Langlade Co. DA's office to focus more on victims, meth epidemic by adding additional prosecutor
LANGLADE CO. - Elizabeth Gebert often feels like she's two people.

The truth is, the Langlade Co. District Attorney often has to act like two people.

Her office is so understaffed, her workload is more than what two lawyers should be taking on, according to a state study.

It means she works 80 hours a week. Cases stack up. She can't meet personally with many crime victims.

"The most common feeling that I hear expressed by crime victims is frustration with how long it takes to get their case going, get their case moving," Gebert said.

But that should change soon. In December, the Langlade Co. Board unanimously approved funding for an additional full-time prosecutor. It's something Gebert has badly wanted ever since an effort by state lawmakers came up short.

State Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) is now a Senator-elect. In 2017, as a member of the Assembly, he proposed a bill to add prosecutors to many county offices.

"Across the entire state, we have a critical understaffing of our district attorneys offices," Jacque said. "It's really in every corner of the state. It's something that, I think, significantly damages our public safety in a lot of different ways."

But Jacque's bill died, prompting Gebert into action in Langlade Co. seeking more help.

Now, with a new prosecutor coming, Gebert says she can help more people in Langlade Co., even if they've never been in the criminal justice system before.

"The harsh reality is you can be a victim of a crime any day," she said. "When that happens, all of a sudden, you will see and appreciate being able to talk to the prosecutor, being able to meet face-to-face with the prosecutor."

Gebert also hopes to spend more time outside of the courtroom once she hires another prosecutor. She wants to bring attention to the county's meth epidemic. The move by the board will give her that flexibility.

"It's an overwhelming vote of confidence that the county board gave me," she said. "It is so wonderful that they did that. It's encouraging to me. It gives me hope."

Langlade Co.'s count of felony cases increased from 314 in 2017 to more than 350 in 2018.

That's largely due to the meth problems in the county.

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