(Juneau) The county’s top cop says there has been an uptick in pursuits in 2022. By mid-September there were 22 police chases in Dodge County, a jump from the roughly 10 to 12 that occurred in all of 2021. Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt called the trend “troubling.”
“It’s unbelievable how many people flee from law enforcement,” says Schmidt. “I think part of it is still from that mentality of individuals that do come up here from Milwaukee, they have that mentality that in Milwaukee we can get away with that and they’re not going to chase us.”
“You come to Dodge County and we are going to hold you accountable. Of course, we are going to take everybody’s safety into consideration at all times when we are pursuing. But we are not just going to terminate just because somebody flees.”
Schmidt says if law enforcement does terminate a pursuit, they will ensure they know who the fleeing suspect is and do everything they can to take them into custody. The sheriff notes that even if that suspect cannot be located, someone will still be held accountable.
“And if we can’t get that person into custody, we will hold the [vehicle’s] owner responsible,” says Schmidt. “In Wisconsin, there is an owner’s liability statute that requires the owner of that vehicle to tell [authorities] who was driving or you’re responsible for that pursuit.”
“So, we will hold individuals accountable. We are not going to allow people to just flee.”
During a recent appearance on Community Comment, Schmidt said there are multiple reasons why someone could choose to run.
“Impaired quite a bit, don’t have a driver’s license, have a warrant. Its amazing, if someone doesn’t have a driver’s license it would take an ordinance violation citation – maybe having their car towed – to a felony level. It doesn’t make any sense,” says Schmidt.
“Unfortunately, they think the wrong way. We turn on the lights and all of a sudden they think, ‘oh-my-goodness what should I do?’ and they hit the gas. Can’t do that.”
Schmidt asks all drivers to be safe and if they find themselves about to be pulled over, a decision to flee is a costly one and could cause a serious crash and cost someone their life.