My Observations Texas vs Wisconsin Law Enforcement

Until recently, I would have never guessed (or probably anyone else) that I’d be working in the law enforcement sector, especially alcohol law enforcement. When I originally moved to Texas, I was offered a contract job at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and eventually it evolved into a full time position. So far I’ve done IT work in transportation, manage services, health care, and now public sector\law enforcement.

Since I do IT work and there is often a lot of waiting time for things to load while on the phone with a user so you tend to BS a little to fill the dead air. As you probably already know, I’m also the guy to hit the road for work so there is a lot of time sitting by someone’s computer in a remote office while working on it. Well when a good chunk of your coworkers are cops (or agents), you tend to learn about how law enforcement works. It definitely does change your perspective in a lot of cases.

One thing I do notice is Texas’s law system is way stricter. You can be arrested for any offense except speeding or an open intoxicant. Now normally this does not happen as there is a ton of work for the cop in doing so, but you could get arrested for a burnt out taillight if the cop really wanted to. In Wisconsin, half the offenses are just citable offenses where you are given a fine and told to get lost. Another big difference is something like public intoxication is a crime in Texas whereas in Wisconsin, it is legal as there is no law on the books prohibiting it. You could write a volume of books on the differences, but those are some of the biggest differences. Also, with all the traveling I have done, I have found the laws vary widely from state to state.

When I was up in Marshfield, I did a ride along with my cousin, who is a cop on the Marshfield Police Department. I wanted to see how they used technology and how they did things in general so I could bring some ideas to use at the TABC. I knew the scopes of enforcement were obviously different. The TABC takes care of alcohol-related offenses and things that happen at bars, as well as does a lot more investigative work than active enforcement. The MPD is a municipal law enforcement agency that takes care of all law enforcement within the Marshfield City Limits.

Now I wish I had my pictures for this, but I lost them all due to my phone security fail. I was pretty impressed with the progressive direction that the new chief of the MPD was taking in regards to using more computer analytics driven policing to pinpoint problem areas and act accordingly on them. Besides that, they had the same kind of setup that our agents have. They had all the programs (different programs themselves but did the same function) to run criminal histories and write tickets, and since we’re both under CJIS compliance, the security appeared to be setup in the same manner.

When we hit the streets, my cousin told me I was in for a treat. Sunday mornings are about the most boring as you were going to get. We had a lady that was visiting Marshfield compliment how nice the town was and the only call was to check an alarm system at a bar that was going off. It was a false alarm due to the manager cleaning the bar at that time. I guess that shows you how safe Marshfield is and reaffirms my motto of, “It’s a great place to raise a family, but a horrible place to raise hell.”

Another big difference I found is how private security is handled. In Texas, doing private security jobs for commissioned police officers is a big thing. There are many companies who hire the off-duty cops to be a point of escalation for the regular security guys if things get out of hand. These cops normally make $30, $40, or even $50 an hour depending on the company and/or event. The company hires them privately and some guys actually make more on their private security jobs than their regular police jobs.

In Wisconsin, I was told that there really isn’t much for private security. It’s mainly just overtime for events like fairs. I confirmed this at RockUSA when I asked one of the cops there that was patrolling if everyone is doing private security or if it’s on overtime. He told me it was all overtime. Now I’m not sure the rates cops make up there, but it sounds like a cop can make a substantial amount more in Texas doing private security than they can working overtime in Wisconsin. It is kind of funny because Texas is truly “rent a cop.”

I know I could go on and on with a deep analysis of the differences in the Texas and Wisconsin law enforcement sectors, but obviously I’m not in the mood to write a novel. I know it’s definitely been a good experience working where I work because law enforcement definitely has some interesting unique caveats that aren’t found in other sectors.

Disclaimer: Because I probably need one, due to people taking things out of context. These are my personal observations and opinions and not a representative of my employer, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).

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