Todd Skarban and Ed Janke were interviewed by the Oconto County Reporter. Their responses to the following questions were edited for clarity and space.
Q: What are two most vital issues facing county and what should be done to address them?
Janke: I have three issues on my platform. No. 1 is managing the drug issue, No. 2 is embracing technology, and the third and perhaps the most important is to continue professional development, organizational development and creating organizational alignment. My belief is, if we are a very high performing organization â€“ in terms of strategic planning, in terms of systems and process â€“ then we will be able to manage the issues that we face, like the drug issue and the technology issues.
What organizational alignment means is we have our people aligned with a strategic plan and we have the resources budgeted to do the job.
On the drug issue, there’sÂ prevention and law enforcement intervention.
From the law enforcement side, we simply use good community policing efforts, intelligence-led policing efforts, and our data to suppress the criminal aspects to drugs (which are) the crimes of consuming andÂ trafficking and manufacturing drugs, and the property crimes t when people go out and steal or burglarizeto get the drugs. That to me is a big issue and thatâ€™s why we have to manage the drug issue.
Â We certainly are party to prevention, in terms of working with the community to try to prevent people from getting on drugs to begin with. The difference is once theyâ€™re in the behavioral cycle of addiction, itâ€™s tough to stop. So weâ€™re better off trying to prevent the issue, starting with our kids.
From the technical aspect, weâ€™re dealing with crimes against children with fraudulent activities against our elders on the internet. Weâ€™ll continue to develop our forensic computer capabilities and our ability to investigate those crimes, and thatâ€™s all part of the strategic plan that Iâ€™m working on.
Skarban:Â Drugs and mental health. Iâ€™ve seen people struggling with addiction my entire career. Iâ€™ve come to realize that as aggressive as we are arresting drug-addicted people, we need to modify our approach and be just as aggressive in their treatment and rehabilitation. We need to offer a blend of treatment, incarceration and supervision to solve the issue.
I aim to increase canine coverage from 12 hours to 24-hours, by adding two dog teams. The funds to purchase the dogs and train the handlers are currently available or available through fundraising. The goal is take dog teams during daytime hours more frequently into school parking lots and schools. That’s going prevent and deter drugs from getting into those facilities. Â It will also provide additional security and reduce the amount of time (an intruder) would have in our schools, just by our presence (during) random routine patrols.
Â Rehabilitation will be accomplished by starting our own substance abuse court, or it might be more economical to partner with Marinette County, which has operated a drug court for several years. I would need to research the best option.
A drug court provides community-based treatment for addicted persons, who receive treatment but are subject to random drug tests several times a week. They must have a sponsor, follow curfews, appear in court to engage the judge. Â Theyâ€™re out of jail, so it saves money. Theyâ€™ll be out working and arenâ€™t committing crimes because they are so closely monitored. They have to agree to random searches of their residence. Itâ€™s very strict and very stringent.
Marinette County shows a 70 percent success, compared to a 5 percent success rate for traditional incarceration through the state. Thatâ€™s generally due to community inclusion, involving them more in the community that theyâ€™re living in. The DOC doesnâ€™t have that great of a success rate because of the transition time from prison to the outside.
Weâ€™re going look to broaden VIP (Oconto Countyâ€™s locally operated probation program) and look to bring in more people and provide professional development and make them better counselors. I also want to implement a chaplain program, as well as a Vivitrol program, which is being tested in the state. The person must be sober for seven days, then they get a shot, which for four weeks blocks their ability to enjoy a drug high.
I would like to turn our jail environment in to an educational and uplifting facility that provides counseling services or instruction on basic course work for inmates. Â
Mental health-related issues are pervasive in every community. We can make better use of our resources by establishing a mental health court or mental health wing off substance abuse court.
We can better train officers and staff to recognize mental health issues and respond more effectively, which can reduce injuries to staff and citizens by using more effective ways of communicating with those in mental health crisis. We currently have two deputies and some jail staff that are crisis intervention team-trained, but need to have everyone (know how) to interact with someone having a crisis moment.
Improvement in how we treat people in crisis a requires a collaborative effort of the sheriffâ€™s office, mental health providers, human services, and local facilities in county. Implementing such a program, which could save money in the long run, could take years.
Q: What are the two most important things the department needs to improve upon?
Janke: We do things here well. Like within any organization, we can certainly improve our systems and processes. One of things I continually work through is our Lean thinking with the rest of the county. (Lean is a program used by organizations and businesses to focus on continuous improvement of key processes to eliminate waste. Janke said he is certified as â€śgreen beltâ€ť in Lean methodology.) Weâ€™ve had a number of Lean initiatives within the office here, we just need to continue to reduce waste (resources, time or effort) within the sheriff office, which would not only make us more effective, from everything from response times to reporting of uniform crime reports, the mandatory reports which to go to government. When I first got here, were about 1.5 years behind on reports, we went through a Lean initiative in the office. About two months ago, we caught up with our reports and we are keeping up, as a result of changing how we did business. We had to train our officers on how to do their jobs a little differently, we had to process our paperwork a little differently and get it into the system a little differently, but now weâ€™re actually caught up. So instead of being overwhelmed in the office and â€”and our federal and state grants being in jeopardy, as result of being that far behind â€” we are now caught up and certified to (apply) for grants.
Thereâ€™s always things we can look at improve upon, so that we communicate better, we interact better, have better relationships. We have key stakeholders, and I am trying to improve these relationships â€“ the District Attorney, Human Services, Circuit Court â€“ to provide a better service at less cost.
Skarban: Data collection. We have to do better job of collecting data, as it refers to different incidents as they unfold. We do some of this but we need to identify the people that have mental health issues going on, so (deputies) know who theyâ€™re dealing with.
Reallocation of resources. Currently there are three guys on day shift â€“ north, middle, southÂ â€“ from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. We can arrange schedules to have four cars on during peak times. There are four investigators. I would like to see reallocation of a detective to the Lakewood substation, one to the substation in Suring, then establish one in the town of Chase or Little Suamico for a detective. Then youâ€™ve actually given (each) third of the county more coverage, so everyone is treated fairly across the board. We could start out with it a few days a week, and see how it works, (but then) thereâ€™s five sets of eyes in each section of the county, youâ€™ve enhanced tactical skills of the detectives, and offer faster service to assist with emergencies. Itâ€™s a no brainer.
Q: Why should residents vote for you over the other candidate?
Janke: I have a deep level of passion for the profession. I have a high level of experience in public safety from an instructional standpoint to a practitioner standpoint to a management standpoint to an administrative standpoint. In my 35 years of law enforcement, I have roughly 20 years of supervisory experience, and most of that has been administrative level, of planning and organizing creating strategic plans, staffing plans, organization plans, incident action plans.
I can step right into this job. Iâ€™ve been working closely with Sheriff Jansen for the last two years, who has provided wisdom and insight into the path forward.
I know exactly how to manage this organization, to diagnose issues thatâ€™s going on along with it, and I am willing to be held accountable by the citizens of this community if things donâ€™t go well.
I have a great deal of training experience. I am not only a fire instructor but also a law enforcement instructor in many of the disciplines that are important to an organization, so I can assist in teaching the organization to move forward. I also have a great deal of experience that ties all of that together.
My outside expertise includes being a certified WEM (Wisconsin Emergency Management) instructor, to teach incident command operations, to create exercises and designed exercises, like the recent active shooter training. As president of MABUS Wisconsin, the organization that runs mutual aid for fire departments, I managed big events with 300 or 400 people on scene. Â
I bring all of those tools to the table. I think my opponent is a great guy, I think heâ€™s a good man. I think thatâ€™s the difference â€“ a different set of tools in my tool box.
Skarban: When it comes to leadership, thereâ€™s two styles that you can utilize to try to effect change in your agency, by manipulation or by inspiration, and by manipulation, I mean thereâ€™s â€“ for lack of a better term â€“ fear or the fear of failure, or consequences.
I donâ€™t offer that. I offer an inspirational way of leadership, I look to inspire people with me, my teammates and work to lift them up, continually.
Iâ€™m going to focus a lot of attention on the reallocation of manpower and other resources, because it will be key to the taxpayers by doing the most with their money. Iâ€™ll work to make things more efficient, andÂ create an atmosphere of cooperation between agencies.
You can be an effective manager, but when it comes to leading people, leading men, they have to follow you. They choose to follow because they know that I love themâ€¦Â I donâ€™t know how else to say it.
Iâ€™m a direct result of the people of Oconto county, and the people I served the last 20-plus years.
Q: How and why did you settle on a career in law enforcement?
Janke: The two big influences were my dadâ€™s volunteer work and discussions with (now retired deputy and later lieutenant) Mike Zahn about the job. I wanted to be hands-on in making an impact in the community. Before my parents moved up north, dad was a volunteer firefighter. I think the things I saw him do and my experiences with him inspired within me a deep sense of altruism, and Iâ€™ve been committed to that my entire life. We owe it to our community to do things that make our community a better place, to volunteer to make an impact and to always be in pursuit of the greater good. Â
Skarban: As a kid, 10-11 years old, my best friend Mark got killed while bicycling on the road in between our homes. I raced up there on my bike, and a deputy swooped me up and drove me home, to shield me from that. Back then, we didnâ€™t have trauma services. I was wreck, and the same deputy stopped into see me, and then the next week and then throughout the summer, and he didnâ€™t have to do that. It was a profound act, it became a mentorship and it inspired me ultimately to become a deputy sheriff.Â Â
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