BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) - An effort to keep drunk drivers off the road is gaining more attention now through social media. But is the attention all positive?
In more than 50 deployments between Brown and Outagamie counties, task force officers have given out more than 300 OWI tickets.
"Our intent right along with stopping what's going on at the time is the awareness and the education," Capt. Randy Schultz, with the Brown County Sheriff's Department said. "And by doing that, apparently we're getting some awareness."
Awareness in the form of social media. Capt. Schultz recently found a Facebook page dedicated to the cause. Created back in April by someone not affiliated with either county task force, the page pledges to update the public on dates and times the task forces will be patrolling.
Capt. Schultz said that aspect of the page is a positive, but he finds some of the comments concerning.
"I saw one that said this whole thing is senseless," he explained. "I thought, senseless? What, preventing people's deaths? The person who wrote that senseless comment, if it were their family member, is it senseless? That's what I would want to ask them."
So he wrote a letter, addressed to the page's anonymous administrator, inviting he or she to spend a day in his shoes.
"I've gotten to know too many people that have gone through these tragedies and still suffer everyday of their life," added Capt. Schultz. "Those comments I couldn't let pass."
Local 5 reached out to the page administrator through Facebook. He or she did not wish to comment on the story.
Below is a post by the page administrator, followed by the letter from Capt. Schultz.
Recently this page has got the attention of local media outlets regarding why it was created and by whom. This can be viewed in a positive and or a negative way. The positive is the page is growing in support and we are bringing attention to an issue we feel is unnecessary and over reaching. The negative aspect is almost the same, it is bringing attention and therefor could negate itself with insi...ders and police changing tactics. Also, there is a fear of reprisals from police departments with operating this page, targeting the creators and its members.
This page was intended to give its members information they may or may not have on local Task Force sting operating in surrounding county's or your local neighborhoods. Information we feel should NOT be withheld from the public. These task force stings may be funded by grants, however, the police departments are funded by tax payers, the very people they are arresting with these stings. The idea of "Protect and Serve" is fading and now it should read, "Collect and Profit".
From this point on, screening will be put in place to block/ban specific users from this page to insure the integrity going forward. Those who work for media outlets and especially police enforcement will be banned and blocked. We don't see this move as unfortunate, just a necessary to keep the page useful for its members.
I present open invitation for you to accompany me to the next OWI induced critical crash in Brown County. You will have to pass me a 24/7 contact number as these happen at all hours of the day. (No, you don't get used to it.) I will personally pick you up and bring you to the scene. You will experience the sights, sounds and smells of these crashes (possibly the screams also), that I guarantee will never leave your mind. You see, I have over 29 years of these with me. Yes, three decades of senseless violent crippling and killing of people in our community by self-centered, uncaring drunks that decide they have some right to fill themselves full and launch their cars through our family and friends. Over 29 years of meeting families to pass news that no one should ever have to hear. Decades of running into these families in public to see the look, knowing when they saw me they're brought back to that instant that changed their lives forever.
You can help hold bodies, or parts of bodies, as the Firefighters cut and pry metal to remove them from the mangled mess of what was a car. You can hear the hair raising screams of those that are still alive when this is happening. You can look into their eyes filled with pain and sheer terror. You can put the gloves on and pick up what's left to place it in the "body bag." I assure you will never forget picking up a mans severed head and placing it in that bag. You can use the fire hose to clean off what can't be picked up and, God forbid, you don't want family and friends to see later. You can smell the unforgettable smell of burnt flesh and come home with that stuck to your clothes, and in your mind. You can sit down to write notes, notes so you don't forget what the man that just died in your arms told you he wanted you to tell his wife and his son.
Then you can come with me to take the walk. That long walk up to someone's front door. Take the long pause before you ring the doorbell. The pause where you wish you didn't have to do what you're about to do, but can never come up with a way out. You'll see the face, the look you will never forget, hear the screams that Hollywood cannot reproduce, and actually feel the terror and pain you're seeing and hearing. You may be verbally and/or physically assaulted. You may have to physically stop someone from hurting or attempting to kill themselves. You may need to call paramedics due to the unequaled emotional terror causing a physical melt down, even a heart attack. Then the tears and the begging question, "Why?". Then you tell them, yes you, that it's due to a drunk driver that their loved one is dead! You will then experience the anger. It will often be directed at you.
Six of eleven of Brown County traffic fatalities this year are due to drunk driving. We average over 40% and have been as high as 73% two years in a row (2008 & 2009). That's "only" the fatalities. OWI induced life changing injury crash statistics are shocking.
Collect and profit? These crashes are estimated to cost the taxpayers over $2 million each. Collect and Profit? I was 19 years old when I responded to my first drunk driving death. He was 16. I drive past that location occasionally and can't stop myself from wondering what he could've become. What he could've contributed to our community, the world. Then I remember that night, looking into his dead eyes and later listening to his parents screams. There are few places left that I can drive through this county without passing those locations. All because some think they have some right to endanger us all, kill and cripple our loved ones.
Come on along Mr. Collect and Profit. You see it'll change you. I know this because I'm a beer drinker. A beer drinker that cannot drive if I drink beer. The emotional effect of my experience won't allow me to, so I have a plan in place in advance. What we need is to find a way to get that to so many others before they cause this unabashed and completely unnecessary violence. Like it or not, the OWI Task Force is one way.
Pass me a number, I'll wake you up the next time I'm woke up. It likely won't be long.
How about having the courage to post this on your page Mr. Anonymous?
Randy S. Schultz
Captain, Patrol Division