Ask an Official: MPD Chief discusses role of assisting agencies in major investigations
This week’s featured question was submitted for Merrill Police Chief Corey Bennett
The question reads:
“It seems like any time there is a major incident like a crash or death in the news, the state patrol is always involved or helping. But I thought they were only for patrolling our highways and interstates and monitoring semi trucks and loads. I’m guessing they must have all sorts of departments and specialties? I’m also curious why the FBI doesn’t help? I see sometimes they are involved with drug crimes but not anything else. Thank you.”
Answer as given by Chief Bennett:
“The Wisconsin State Patrol does provide assistance to local agencies when their special expertise is needed. For instance, their TRU (Traffic Reconstruction Unit) has assisted the Merrill PD with serious crashes and crime scenes due to the reconstruction hardware and software they utilize. The WSP has also been known to be an independent 3rd party agency (for lack of a better term) called upon to handle crashes involving local law enforcement vehicles. The agency involved in the crash generally can’t produce their own crash report. Therefore an independent agency should, if practical, conduct the crash investigation and create a report.
“Generally speaking, crimes that extend beyond our jurisdiction in WI will involve those jurisdictional agencies directly and may also involve the WI DOJ, Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI). DCI has been known to assist agencies with crimes of a serious nature or crimes extending beyond local jurisdictional boundaries. This is due to the limited personnel and sometimes limited expertise in local agencies. DCI, like the WSP, also may be called upon to act as an independent agency for investigations involving local law enforcement.
“The FBI traditionally is involved in large scale criminal investigations commonly extending beyond state boundaries. They have a specific purpose relating to the violation of federal statutes, not state statutes that we would enforce. While our investigations do not often cross paths, the FBI is a participant in local training and local investigator meetings for the objective of regional caseload awareness.”
Have a question or concern you would like to address? Simply send your question or concern to firstname.lastname@example.org along with an indication of which entity your question or concern pertains to. Current participants are the Merrill Police Department, Merrill Fire Department, Tomahawk Police Department, Lincoln County Administrative Coordinator Randy Scholz, Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson, Merrill Area Housing Authority Director Paul Russell, Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe and Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) Superintendent Dr. John Sample. Please note: Those who submit to the ‘Ask an Official’ feature remain anonymous.