Wis. investigating plans to 'sabotage' correctional officer recruitment

Social media posts allegedly threatened to do physical harm to those manning fair recruitment booth; people reported being harassed and threatened while trying to approach the booth last year

By C1 Staff

DODGE COUNTY – The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is investigating social media posts that allegedly threatened those who planned to visit a corrections recruitment booth at an annual county fair.

The Chippewa Herald reports that the DOC has identified those who made the posts and that the DOC is considering criminal charges. A spokesperson for the DOC wouldn’t discuss specifics on either, citing an ongoing investigation.

The DOC cancelled having its recruitment booth at the Dodge County Fair this year, after several people reported that corrections workers “harassed and tried to intimidate” visitors to the booth last year, according to an email sent out by Corrections Secretary Ed Wall to corrections staff.

 In his email, Wall stated that the posts “[planned] over actions designed to undermine our department” and that they violated executive directives and policies.

“Although these social media posts may have been on their personal accounts and done during their own time, that does not change the fact that they had no other objective than to undermine the agency that employed them, while discussing contemplated assaults on our staff,” he wrote. “Fortunately, these staff members were easily identified and investigations into these actions by law enforcement and the DOC have bene initiated.

The county fair grounds are about 15 miles from the Waupun Correctional Institute, which has been hit hard by staff shortages, according to the Chippewa. The DOC has since imposed forced overtime to deal with the shortages.

“Trying to thwart recruitment efforts designed to help relieve staff vacancies or expressing their desire to harm others who are trying to help is nothing other than unprofessional and it cannot be tolerated,” Wall wrote.

The posts were allegedly made by both current and past DOC staff members and allegedly displayed a “desire or intent to do physical harm” to corrections workers manning the booth.

Staff and officials disagree on the cause of the shortages: employees blame Act 10, which ended collective bargaining rights for public employees, and low starting pay that prompts staff to look for higher-paying county jobs or other lines of work. Officials blame the shortage on a large number of employees hired during the 1990 prison boom who have reached retirement age nearly simultaneously.

To help with the shortages, the DOC has reached out to former employees, seeking to enlist them as limited term employees for $15.20 to $20 an hour, the Chippewa states.

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