Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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Officers on alert following a $25,000 fireworks theft in Somerset arrested a group of Twin Cities men in June after they arrived in the middle of the night outside a St. Croix County fireworks store in trucks allegedly packed with tools to commit a burglary.
A Minnesota man had gotten off with a fireworks warning on the Fourth of July in Hudson until he allegedly went after the people who called to complain about him and launched a firework at their car. According to a criminal complaint, an officer responding to the scene had to slam the brakes of his police cruiser “as firecrackers began exploding under the front of my squad” moments before getting out to arrest the suspect.
A New Richmond man facing his fourth drunken-driving offense was arrested again after allegedly driving with alcohol in his system while on bond. The incidents, which occurred 10 days apart, led to three felony charges against 41-year-old James R. Padelford. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Eric Lundell held Padelford on $1,000 cash bond at a June 27 hearing on his most recent charges — operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration (fourth offense) and felony bail jumping.
A St. Croix County man allegedly used a drug investigator's name to create a fake Facebook account and needle a woman about drug dealing. Investigators learned about the incident through the woman's father — a Boyceville police officer. According to a criminal complaint, the impersonator asked the woman, "Hey so do you sell drugs like your brother does too then???."
State and local officials scooped ceremonial dirt piles June 26 during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Little Falls Lake dam, a $20 million project that will rebuild the existing structure and restore the lake above it at Willow River State Park. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia
NEW RICHMOND — A stride past a puff of cigarette smoke and children playing on the sidewalk leads to the entrance of the Lowrey Hotel, where visitors are greeted by a bulletin board in the foyer. An assortment of messages spell out hotel owner Stacy Wright's code of conduct for tenants. There are many edicts among "Stacy's Simple Rules," as they're listed, but Wright said one above all sums up her philosophy as owner of the inn. She can recite it from memory.
A number of Wisconsin schools will be using gunshot-detection sensors when classes resume this fall to try to get police to respond more quickly to a mass shooting. The sensors are among various security upgrades schools are rolling out with grant money state lawmakers approved this year after the shootings in Parkland, Florida. Officials say the Kenosha Unified School District plans to use $384,000 of its nearly $900,000 award to install sensors from New Mexico-based EAGL Technology at its 43 schools.
St. Croix County Sheriff's Office leaders were satisfied they had found the right body cameras for their officers. They just needed the right apparatus to hold them in place. The new cameras offer deputies different options — they're military-grade cellphones capable of audio recording and GPS tracking — but while testing the devices, sheriff's officials learned there was a drawback. There wasn't anything holding them in place.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office will be drawing from other agencies' experiences while minding potential legislative changes as it prepares to launch its body camera program later this year. The cameras — beefed-up smartphones, actually — will be issued to the department's patrol deputies, jail staff and investigators later this summer, St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said. The $230,000 program comes as state lawmakers revisit body-camera legislation that will likely be resurrected after crumbling in 2017.
The former Hudson dentist facing ongoing scrutiny for his dental practices pleaded no contest this week to two misdemeanor crimes, though a plea agreement allows for the charges to be dropped after a year.