Wisconsin agencies identify trends identified in officer-involve - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin agencies identify trends identified in officer-involved shootings

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - A manhunt, a chase and shots fired. What happened yesterday in Dunn County has us asking questions today. Chief among those is: are these incidents becoming more common?

The answer is yes, if you compare this year to last.

We're also asking officers if they can explain why more investigations escalate putting their lives in danger.

Yesterday, Jared Brendel allegedly fired at officers after a high-speed chase in two counties. Deputies fired back. No one was hurt and Brendel was arrested.

"For as long as we've been tracking this information, which is only the last five or six years, we've noticed that it does seem to be a pretty steady number," Executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Academy Jim Palmer says.

With hundreds of agencies reporting their statistics to the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, 2014 is well above last year's pace for shootings involving officers.

"What's troubling about this years officer-involved shootings is this year, for as far back as we can recall, we've never had two officer-involved shootings one day after another. So far this year, that very thing has occurred three different times," Palmer says.

While it's hard to say why these serious incidents keep happening, agencies have noticed a few trends.

"More chances than not, the person's had a criminal history and been given many, many chances to correct their behavior. A lot of these people are catching probation rather than prison. In order to keep the community safe, there are certain people that really need to go to prison. There are some people who can rehab through some programs if you have adequate programming in your county," Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer says.

And that's another problem; Sheriff Cramer says cuts are being made to drug, alcohol and mental health programs across the state.

Many counties, the only thing that's available to them is probation or jail,” Sheriff Cramer says.

"There's a shortage of prosecuting attorneys in our district attorney offices throughout the state. Wisconsin has 215 fewer prosecutors across the state than we need to have," Palmer says.

Meaning charges often result in a plea agreement to avoid a jury trial.

"Many of the people that I've seen that have been local: drugs, alcohol, mental health and its been accumulating for months. It just didn't happen overnight," Sheriff Cramer says.

In the meantime, officers are continuously being trained in case their number is called.

"We want to give the officers the upper hand when you go into a situation like that. We want to come out the winner, we do not want to come out the loser and lose an officer in a situation like we've seen in the past," Sheriff Cramer says.

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer says, many times, there are warning signs before these incidents happen and escalate. He says if you see something suspicious say something, call law enforcement.

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