How Wisconsin Arrests Work
Police reports generally refer to reports filed by agents of a law enforcement body after encountering potential breaches of law, ordinance, or policy of the municipality, town, city, or the state. Simply put, after a police officer or sheriff is asked to intercede with an issue or if they encounter someone breaking the law during patrols, they must file a police report.
Reports are a way for law enforcement to document incidents as they were observed by the officer or officers on the scene of a crime or potential crime. The details usually include the names and information of all parties involved, the time of the occurrence, what law was allegedly broken or crime allegedly committed, the actions of the parties involved, and whether there was an arrest. These details are presented very clearly and are not supposed to be influenced by the opinion of officers involved. They cannot be altered after they are filed, and are maintained for a long period of time, if not indefinitely. Because of the rigidness of this system, the police report is typically the first piece of evidence gathered when building a case against a defendant.
These reports are official government documents, and as such, fall under the category of public records. The people of Wisconsin, like all states in the union, are legally empowered to be able to seek out these police reports or arrest records, study them, and make copies if needed. This power is given to Wisconsinites through the Wisconsin Open Records Law, which itself is a stateside version of the federal Freedom of Information Act. Per the act, “In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the public policy of this state that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them.”
Typically, police records can be found through the local and municipal law enforcement agency that performed the arrest of intrigue. This may be statewide, a county concern, or a local level activity. Finding police reports can often be done by visiting the nearest police headquarters, though with some agencies, such as the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s department, online requests are available.
Crimes and Arrest
Crime in the Badger State was overall down between 2016 and 2017. Homicide was down 18%, robbery was down 8%, burglary was down 10%, larceny was down 6%, and vehicle theft 5%. Meanwhile, aggravated assault rose by 11%, simple assault was up 8%, and arson was up 6%. Rape was also on the rise, going from 1,408 reported cases in 2016 to 2,153 in 2017, but according to experts in the field, this is likely due to increased effectiveness of sexual assault investigations, and growing numbers of rapes being reported rather than staying hidden.
Overall, 2017 saw 188 homicides, 2,153 sexual assaults, 4,329 robberies, 11,888 aggravated assaults, 28,024 simple assaults, 17,518 burglaries, 77,280 larcenies, 9,505 motor vehicle thefts, and 584 arson incidents.
From a five year perspective, Wisconsin’s crime rates have fluctuated, but there is little consistency. Homicide is overall higher than in 2013, but is lower than the 51% spike from 2015. Sexual assault is much higher overall, but most of that metric is thanks to increased reporting and better investigations leading to convictions. Simple assault dropped sharply in 2014, but has been on a steady rise, until 2017 where it hit its highest number in five years. Motor vehicle theft rose sharply in 2015, but is now on a steady decline, whereas Arson hit it’s lowest number in 2015, only to start a steady rise since. Aggravated assault is on a consistent rise, but robbery, burglary, and larceny are all constantly lowering.
2017 also saw a widespread redefinition of rape that makes an occurrence much broader and eliminates gender from the wording. Per the United States Department of Justice Archives, “For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men. It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.”
To accommodate for an age where specificity is needed to prosecute offenders, the 1924 definition of rape was rewritten from
“The carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will”
“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
County and School Crime
Wisconsin’s crime rate was lower than the national average in 2016, and 2018 is expected to be even lower. In 2016, the violent crime rate was nearly 23% lower than the national average, and its property crime was 21% lower than the national average.
Milwaukee County is the most populated county in Wisconsin, and includes the largest city, named the same. With a population of 952,085, the county’s population has held steady since the mid-1970s when it dipped below 1 million residents. In 2017, the county experienced 124 homicides, 518 rapes, 3,204 robberies, and 6,401 aggravated assaults. For property crime, there were 6,670 burglaries, 20,076 larcenies, 6,319 motor vehicle thefts, and 336 arsons.
The largest school in Milwaukee County is the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee with a student body of over 27,000. Between 2013 and 2015, the campus reported 18 rapes, 2 robberies, 1 aggravated assault, 58 burglaries, 1 vehicle theft, 1 arson, 5 illegal weapons possession charges, 178 drug law violations, and 111 liquor law violations.
Dane County is the second most populated county in Wisconsin, and includes the city of Madison, the state's capital. With a population of 536,416, the county has been growing since 1970 when its population was just under 300,000. In 2017, the county had 15 homicides, 164 rapes, 292 robberies, and 886 aggravated assaults. In terms of property crime, there were 1,525 burglaries, 8,714 larcenies, 686 motor vehicle thefts, and 19 arsons.
The largest school in Dane is the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a population of 43,820 students. The campus reported 1 negligent manslaughter, 55 rapes 6 robberies, 11 aggravated assault, 109 burglaries, 9 motor vehicle thefts, 2 arsons, 3 illegal weapons possessions, 131 drug law violations, and 1 liquor law violations.
Brown County is the fourth most populated county in Wisconsin, and includes the city of Green Bay. With a population of 262,052, the county has been growing since 1970 when its population was just over 150,000. In 2017, the county had no homicides, 115 rapes, 72 robberies, and 478 aggravated assaults. In terms of property crime, there were 498 burglaries, 3,314 larcenies, 129 motor vehicle thefts, and 24 arsons.
The largest school in Dane is the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College with a population of 10,406 students. The campus is very safe by nationwide standards, and only reported 1 motor vehicle theft between 2013 and 2015.
Rock County is the ninth largest county in terms of population, with 162,309 citizens as of 2017. It is the largest city is Janesville, which also serves as the county’s seat of government. In 2017, the county experienced 4 murders, 105 rapes, 70 robberies, 212 aggravated assaults, 664 burglaries, 2,966 larcenies, 144 vehicle thefts, and 18 arson instances.
Rock County is home to a number of universities, but the largest is the Blackhawk Technical College, with a student population of 11,126. The university campus is very safe, reporting only one vehicle theft between 2013 and 2015. The county is also home to Beloit College; a private institution founded in 1846 that had a population of 1,402 in 2017. Beloit campus reported 24 rapes, 1 assault, 12 burglaries, 1 vehicle theft, 1 arson charge, 1 illegal weapon possession charge, 7 drug law violations, and 13 liquor law violations.
Waukesha County is the third most populated county in Wisconsin, and is home to the city of the same name. With a population of 400,621, the county reported no homicides, 82 rapes, 57 robberies, 174 assaults, 478 burglaries, 3,533 larcenies, 175 vehicle thefts, and 10 arson instances.
The county also contains Carroll University; a four-year institution originally built in 1846. The school's population is just below 3,000 and between 2013 and 2015, they reported 9 rapes, 13 burglaries, 1 illegal weapons possession, 32 drug law violations, and 32 liquor law violations.
Racine County is home to the city of Racine, and has a growing population of 196,071, making it the fifth largest county in the state of Wisconsin. In 2017, the county reported 2 homicides, 81 rapes, 143 robberies, 451 aggravated assaults, 579 burglaries, 2,192 larcenies, 185 motor vehicle thefts, and 16 arson instances.
The county is home to Gateway Technical College, which has a student body of 9,149. The school reported almost no crime between 2013 and 2015, with only 1 robbery and 1 burglary occurring on campus in that time period.
The County of Kenosha, in the southeast corner of Wisconsin, is the eighth most populated county in the state. It has a population of 168,521, and is home to the city of Kenosha. The county recorded 11 homicides, 98 rapes, 134 robberies and 282 aggravated assaults. For property crime, there were 465 burglaries, 2120 larceny thefts, 112 motor vehicle thefts, and 8 arsons.
The county is home to Gateway Technical College’s Kenosha campus, which has a student body of 9,149, shared with Gateway Technical College’s student body. The school reported almost no crime between 2013 and 2015, with only 1 robbery and 1 burglary occuring on campus in that time period.
With a population of 118,274, La Crosse County is Wisconsin's twelfth largest county. It is home to the city of the same name. The county experienced 1 murder, 36 rapes, 35 robberies, 124 assaults, 476 burglaries, 2,582 larcenies, 98 vehicle thefts, and 5 arson incidents.
The county is home to the La Cross campus of the University of Wisconsin. The school has 10,546 students as of 2017. The schools crime is average, and the university reported 6 rapes, 2 assaults, 1 motor vehicle theft, 1 arson, 1 illegal weapons possession, and 19 drug law violations between 2013 and 2015.
The County of Outagamie, is the sixth most populated county in the state. It has a population of 186,059, and is home to the city of Appleton. The county recorded 2 homicides, 52 rapes, 28 robberies and 211 aggravated assaults. For property crime, there were 317 burglaries, 2,314 larceny thefts, 100 motor vehicle thefts, and 17 arsons.
The county is home to the Fox Valley Technical College; a four year institution with a population of nearly 11,000. The campus is relatively safe in comparison to the nations colleges. They reported only 1 drug law violation and 1 liquor law violation between 2013 and 2015.
Winnebago County is the seventh most populated county in Wisconsin, and is home to the city of the same name. With a population of 170,414, the county reported no homicides, 35 rapes, 32 robberies, 228 assaults, 351 burglaries, 2,286 larcenies, 123 vehicle thefts, and 8 arson instances.
The county also contains the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. The schools population was 13,513, and between 2013 and 2015, they reported 28 rapes, 1 assault, 7 burglaries, 3 motor vehicle thefts, 6 arson instances, 3 illegal weapons possession, and 149 drug law violations.
Eau Claire is the the fourteenth most populated county in Wisconsin, with a population of 103,671. The county has been growing since 1970 when it’s population was just over 67,000. In 2017, the county had 3 homicides, 38 rapes, 47 robberies, and 137 aggravated assaults. In terms of property crime, there were 486 burglaries, 1,775 larcenies, 103 motor vehicle thefts, and 11 arsons.
The largest school in Eau Claire is the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a population of 10,022 students. The campus reported 13 rapes, 6 assaults, 2 illegal weapons possessions, and 49 drug law violations between 2013 and 2015.
Wisconsin Offenses Known to Law Enforcement