Natscho in action again

Antigo Police Department K-9 officer Natscho showed off his suspect apprehension skills on Officer Andy Hopfensperger, under the direction of Natscho’s partner, Ryan Bula, at the Antigo Public Library this past summer. The K-9 program is among the most popular with the police department.

Antigo police officers made more than 500 arrests in 2020, according to the Antigo Police Department’s 2020 annual report.

The report, released last month, offers a glimpse of what officers dealt with throughout the previous year—from the training to service calls and from community activities to special details and changes due to COVID-19.

“As a police department, we have had to change procedures and protocols with our arrests, mental health care, medical evaluations, the court system and pretty much every way we do our business,” Chief Eric Roller wrote in the report.

The health pandemic also affected the department’s interaction with the community.

“Community policing involves the proactive interaction with the community, and we have had to forgo many programs and opportunities during this time,” Roller said. “We have had to explore other avenues to show our presence within the community and had to get creative with reaching out with other methods to maintain safety.”

That said, officers continued to answer calls for thefts, battery, accidents, sexual assault, disorderly conduct, traffic complaints, probation violations, warrant arrests, animal complaints, mental health calls, assisting other agencies, operating while intoxicated, bail jumping and more.

Officers made 1,707 traffic stops in 2020, compared to 1,619 in 2019, according to records released from the police department. The numbers were not included in the annual report.

The numbers also revealed officers responded to more civil complaints (201 in 2020 and 156 in 2019, more theft (259 last year compared to 214 the year before) and more suspicious events (590 compared to 534).

More than half of the 522 arrests made were for bail jumping, battery or disorderly conduct. Other reasons for arrests included criminal damage, drug offenses, operating while intoxicated, probation violations, operating after revocation or operating without a valid driver’s license, and theft.

Again, numbers of specific crimes and arrests were not noted in the report, but a list was released by the department.

There were 118 drug arrests in 2020, compared to 100 in 2019. Arrests for theft increased from 34 in 2019 to 49 in 2020.

The numbers showed a significant drop in arrests for probation violations, declining form 269 in 2019 to 87 last year. Also down from the previous year were arrests for bail jumping, criminal damage, battery, operating while intoxicated and disorderly conduct.

Officers issued three types of citations—those generated from a traffic stop or a traffic-related offense; non-traffic offense such as disorderly conduct, theft, retail theft or a drinking offense; and those issued due to a traffic accident.

Traffic citations were the most common in 2020, but the 562 were down from the 673 noted in 2019. Non-traffic citations dropped from 468 to 284, while crash reports increased from 129 to 139.

Officers also attended a variety of training sessions throughout the year—some were held in-house by local officers trained by the state to lead the sessions. Training opportunities included sessions in firearms, defense and arrest tactics, vehicle contacts, field sobriety testing, human trafficking,

“We’ve missed our community and all the previous outreach we have been able to do in the years past. We hope to someday get back to a proactive community policing that involves more contact within the community. I commend my staff for staying positive and keeping safe during these uncertain times, all while still providing quality service to the citizens (of) the community.”

Later this year, the department will participate in Drug Take Back Day, Shop with a Cop, Lights of Christmas and Culver’s Day/Crusade for Kids.

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