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“Life-saving” funds are back on the table for Oneida County

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WAOW) -- After an 8-hour-long County board meeting last month, funding was rejected for several "Capital Improvement Projects" (CIPs). After hearing concerns from the community, the board may be changing that decision.

A body scanner at the jail is one of ten CIPs initially rejected by the county.

Jail Captain Mark Neuman has 30 years of experience. "I've done a lot of searches, brought a lot of people into jail," he said. "Stuff gets missed in searches... it just happens."

That "stuff" is normally smuggled inside the body and can be anything from a weapon to drugs.

"Once they get in the jail, said Neuman," they share the stuff."

That could create a deadly and costly situation for the county. Neuman said a death in the jail can cost between 1-3 million dollars.

So, the Sheriff's Department requested a $130,000 body scanner in the 2020 budget. After that was rejected, the CIP committee and Administration committee continued their discussion.

Dave Hintz is the chair of the Oneida County Board. He said, " It's a strong feeling of the administration committee that these 14 projects have to be funded."

At the next full board meeting in January, Hintz said the committee will present additional details on the 14 projects and how to pay for each one through cash reserves and low-interest loans.

For the sheriff's department, that could benefit more than just their jail, but their officers. Another CIP provides new tasers to the department.

Patrol Captain Tyler Young said the Tasers they currently have are at the end of their 5-to-7-year lifespan and are malfunctioning in the field.

Recently, he said, and an officer went to use their taser on a much larger man and it malfunctioned. Luckily another officer was there with another taser. But, he said this has happened several times in the past two years.

Young said tasers are a crucial alternative to deadly force. Without funding, officers may not have the tool.

"I know they have a budget to work with and they work hard at that," he said. These projects would make a major difference for his staff.

The next County Board meeting will take place on January 21st at 9:30 a.m.

Tom Lally

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