March 13, 2011

A Police Officer's Description of the Scene at the Wisconsin Capitol

I received this email from a friend in Wisconsin:

This is from a Lieutenant (I removed his name to protect him) from the Waukesha Sheriff’s Department who was sent to assist local Madison law enforcement in providing extra security at the State Capitol. What a disgrace.

On 2/23/11 I was sent to Madison to assist local Law Enforcement in providing security for the Capitol building complex and grounds. I arrived at WSD (Sheriff's Department) at 0315 hours. I met with 4 Deputies and we loaded a prisoner transport van with riot helmets, gas masks, flex cuffs and extra radio batteries. At 0400 four City of Waukesha officers arrived at WSD and we drove to the Marriott hotel in Madison. Pulling into the hotel parking lot I observed over 130 State Patrol squads and about 110 assorted Wisconsin Police squads. We were ushered into a huge meeting room. Once there we were spilt into several divisions. I was in the largest division, the interior branch. The good news is we were going to be inside and out of the weather. The bad news, we shared the Capitol with 10,000 screaming protesters. More on those oxygen thiefs later. After we were briefed on rules of engagement and communications we were ushered out. Since this is Madison and the lead agency is the UW Capitol police, we were told absolutely no pepper spray. We were also told that the use of tasers was prohibited to dry stuns only, and then only with supervisory approval. I immediately told my troops, that they had my approval. My priority was thier safety and to protect themselves. All 239 cops were led to 5 city buses waiting outside. We were escorted with red/blue lights and sirens by the State Patrol to the Capitol. It felt surreal to be part of this huge convey speeding thru the city at 0530 in the morning.

Upon arriving at the underground parking area of the Capitol we walked to a large walking tunnel. In this tunnel we were instructed to store our helmets, batons, pepper spray and all gear in this tunnel. I can't describe what 239 gear bags and gear look like when they are placed by the wall inside this tunnel. All of us felt that this was a tactical mistake by leaving very important gear stored away in a tunnel. Nevertheless, we complied and were led to our posts.

My division was assigned to the first floor southern area of the Capitol. This is were the Senators offices are located. I made several observations while walking thru the rotunda. This building is a historic jewel. All of the surfaces are beautiful granite with detailed and ornate lighting fixtures and artwork. The building should make every Wisconsin citizen proud. Sleeping inside the rotunda was between 600 - 900 people. These people have been living inside the Capitol for six days. The garbage and stench were nauseating. Taped to every surface were signs protesting the Governor. Some signs were simple such as "teachers don't sleep at home, they sleep at the Capitol". Some were nothing more than vulgar hate speech. Don't believe the media, not all protesters are peaceful loving people.

I then walked over to my assignment which was to guard a stairwell that was in front of the office of Senator Leah Vukmir and Senator Fred Risser. Senator Vukmir is a republican Senator from Tosa. She is a tough republican with good strong core values. Throughout the day I had many good conversations with her. She reported for work, while Senator Fred Risser fled the State like a coward. Please google her, read about her and support her. The Senator and her staff took great care of us in Law Enforcement. She and her staff treated us with respect and thanked us for our dedication to their safety. The staff that supports Senator Risser looked at Law Enforcement with disgust. They would not establish eye contact and complained about having to show us their ID's. Our team, all 10 of us maintained our posts from 0600 till 1930 hours.

At about 0700 the protesters started their demonstrations. Imagine 10,000 people yelling, screaming, beating steel drums, blowing whistles and waving signs that spew hatred. Now imagine this inside the Capitol. Think of how your high school locker room smelled at its worst. Now amplify that odor 20 fold. The noise was deafening and we were encouraged to wear ear plugs. The floors of the Capitol shook with all of the noise and marching.

Some of the protesters were normal well dressed people. But I also observed a man in a wheel chair how appeared all crippled up. And then before the media arrived I, with my own eyes observed this wheelchair bound man stand up and walk. He then started stretching and appeared to walk as good as any of us. As soon as the media showed up, he sat back in his wheelchair, rounded his shoulders and bent over as if he was crippled up. I observed people who had been sleeping in the Capitol for a week, clean themselves in the bathroom sinks. We were told not to touch any railings or use the microwaves as the homeless and others were washing their socks in the sinks and drying laundry in the microwaves. Again, think high school locker room at its worst. One of my partners observed a toddler, 4 to 5 years old eating pizza. The child was standing next to his mother and was still hungry. The mother looked at the child and raised her shirt up. The child began to nurse from his mothers chest while he was standing next to her. This child was old enough and tall enough to nurse while standing.

Throughout the day I met and worked with many cops from around the state. We have allot of good cops here that work very hard.

My final observations. I witnessed history in the making. I'm glad I was there and was able to experience this first hand. It was a long day after standing on a granite floor for 10 to 13 hours. The Capitol is a beautiful building that needs to be locked down. They need to secure the Capitol and move these squatters outside. There is a growing health risk of having that many people living/sleeping inside the Capitol. Some have not showered for a week. There are piles of hair 3 inches high along the walls. It is by the grace of God that we kept a lid on the protesters. But, it felt as if we were on the brink of losing that control at any moment. Statewide Law Enforcement is not able to continue to provide security for this event long term. I fear this could last a month or more. With the Capitol open and the free food pouring in, why would they every leave. The National Guard needs to respond and start replacing us. When the protesters reach their breaking point, and they are getting close. Wisconsin will need the Guard to step in. The media reports with a slant and I wanted you to know what yesterday was like.


  1. I am a 77 year old veteran and I have never heard before this description of democracy. Our leader are a disgrace to the human race.

  2. I greatly respect the work that our police force do but I would have been there that day. I didn't smell anything nor did I see hair three inches high on the walls ( don't even know what that means) and for the most part I saw people being nothing but thankful to the police.

    I am a 28 year old veteran and I don't think this helps make the point