Less than a half hour after his shift started at 10 p.m., two of Sgt. Jim Gardiner’s three officers are tied up on calls that could take more than an hour, which means he and his one officer are left covering the 48 square miles that make up Caledonia.
Normally being at minimal staffing with three officers isn’t a problem in Caledonia, but this is a Friday night on a holiday weekend and Gardiner has a feeling that his officers will be chasing fireworks calls and initiating drunk driving stops. If they get a car crash or a call that requires more help, he’ll need to call in extra help.
But that isn’t quite how this night unfolds.
One of his officers is out on a call about a found Corgie dog caught roaming the neighborhood in the Kremer subdivision along Johnson Avenue. The other is investigating a possible sexual assault of a woman who is in the Intensive Care Unit at Wheaton Franciscan Hospital in Franklin. Rescue workers from the Caledonia Fire Department picked up the woman from a location on Highway G earlier that day and staff at the hospital have reason to suspect that the woman was sexually assaulted.
Gardiner tells his officer what he knows. He needs him to go to the hospital and talk to the staff because they’ve noticed that the woman has bruising. She’s been in and out of consciousness, and has talked some to staff.
“I need you to go over there and talk to her,” Gardiner tells the officer. “And get photos if you can.”
He takes a camera to the officer, who is out on a traffic stop on Foley Road, then turns his attention to the dog call. He wants to see if they can find the owner so that his animal control officer doesn’t have to take the dog to the Wisconsin Humane Society, which is a 20-minute drive one way.
“I can’t lose an officer for an hour over a lost Corgie wearing a pink collar,” he said. “So if we can’t find the owners, we’ll have to take it to our ‘doggie jail,’ the kennels we have over at the station and take it to the humane society later.”
When Gardiner gets to the home of the resident who found the dog, he discovers that the resident has already found the owner. A call comes in for some kids running from the Payne & Dolan quarry on Four Mile Road and Charles Street, which Gardiner starts heading to. But he gets a call from his officer at the hospital. The officer gets photos. When he asks the woman who did this to her. “Two men,” she replies and then she loses consciousness.
The officer calls Gardiner, who tells him to see if he can get a nurse to do a sexual assault exam to collect DNA evidence from the woman. However, the hospital doesn’t have a nurse on duty that is certified to do it and Gardiner calls the detective to see if there might be a way to get one from another hospital.
But Gardiner gets a call to Wind Point apartments for a 911 hang-up call, which turns out to be at the pool. When Gardiner arrives, he finds a group of adults drinking and several young children running around, and suspects the kids were playing. He hangs up the phone, talks to the parents about keeping a closer eye on their children and then talks to the kids about not playing on the phone.
“This is the third time this year that this has happened,” Gardiner said.
While patrolling near the frontage road, he gets a call that one of his officers has stopped a motorcycle for speeding. They’ve learned that the man doesn’t have a motorcycle license because he let his temporary license expire. The man tells the officer that he’s carrying a .357 pistol that he has a permit to carry, which isn’t a problem. But the man has alcohol on his breath, which has the potential to be a problem if he’s found to be over the legal limit.
“It’s not a big deal if people are carrying, it’s his right to do,” Gardiner said. “We can ask if people have any weapons on them, but he’s not required to tell us if he’s armed. But in this case he did.”
They take away his gun until they can sort out if the man is driving drunk.
Gardiner and the two officers are on scene. The third officer is still at the hospital. Gardiner oversees the field sobriety test, the report writing and assists the officers if needed. All three of his officers have less than five years of law enforcement experience.
The man on the motorcycle passes the field sobriety test and passes the breathalyzer test at .03. The legal limit is .08. They give him back the gun, let him walk his motorcycle back to a friends house about a mile away, and write him a municipal citation for speeding and not having a motorcycle license. They don’t give him a ticket for having a gun while drinking because he was not deemed materially impaired.
“It’s a hot button issue with some people,” Gardiner said. “But basically, you are just exercising your right to carry. I don’t have a problem with it and if you aren’t pointing it at me, we don’t have a problem.”
Gardiner gets a call from his officer at Wheaton Franciscan-Franklin that he’s got all of the photos he needs and that the woman had significant bruising in her pelvic area. But the woman is detoxing from being on drugs and she doesn’t have the ability to give consent for an exam, even if one can be found. So he tells the officer to log the photos at the station and leave a note for the detective.
Another traffic stop comes. A man is driving and isn’t the owner of the car. His sister, Vanessa Anderson, is the passenger. But she’s angry because she doesn’t understand the reason for the stop. The officer ran the plates to her car and discovered the registered owner of the car doesn’t have a valid driver’s license. She owns the car, but isn’t driving. And as the officers run her driver’s license to see if there are any wants or warrants, she starts to record them on her cell phone.
Anderson is taken to jail for disorderly conduct and obstructing warrants out of Racine and bail jumping out of Racine County. She tells her brother to make sure her kids go the Fourth of July parade.
“When that happens, we just smile more,” Gardiner said. “We’ve got in-dash cameras so we’re already recording the stop. Some cops have an issue with that (citizens recording their behavior), but if you are doing your job right… what’s there to worry about?”