Written by Katie Rosenberg
What started off as a quiet Memorial Day afternoon ended with me flying down Highway 29 at 80+ miles an hour, in the middle of a downpour, as Marathon County K-9 Unit Monty whined and panted in the backseat. “He feeds off of my energy,” Deputy Daniel D’Acquisto said. “He knows something is up.”
I was sitting shotgun in D’Acquisto’s squad car on our way to a potential situation in a small township outside of Wausau. Monty, D’Acquisto’s newest partner, is a 2-year-old Malinois with a nose for everything from marijuana to meth to cocaine.
When Monty heard the sirens blaring and felt the car speed up, he knew that it might be time for his call of duty — and he was ready. “Monty is always happy to get to work,” D’Acquisto said.
Earlier in the day, I toured the Marathon County Jail.
It had been a busy Memorial Day weekend, with over 30 bookings between Friday and Monday, but the day itself was quiet. Inmates were sleeping, watching TV, and chatting with each other after lunch while Lieutenant Fred Goch showed me around. After leaving all of my belongings except a notebook and pen at intake, I felt a little nervous. I had never been in the jail, or any jail…
Before my tour, Chief Deputy Sheriff Chad Billeb told me that the jail was like a little city. Inside the thick concrete walls, I saw classrooms for inmates studying for their GEDs, bible classes, and even coursework through North Central Technical College. There is a food service area that serves 800 meals a day. And there’s also a recreation area that has a sliver of natural light coming through the ceiling where inmates can play basketball or handball twice a week.
At the time of my tour, there were 285 inmates living inside, but there were also 95 others who were being housed outside of Marathon County. Lincoln, Shawano, Langlade, and Chippewa Counties have all held inmates from Marathon County at an additional cost. Lieutenant Goch says that’s becoming a regular occurrence because of the influx of heroin and meth. Every week, routine traffic stops can become drug stops, landing another user or dealer in jail.
Deputy D’Acquisto showed me just how powerful Monty was when it came to sniffing out drugs when we stopped at a training facility during the ride-along.
We left Monty in the squad car while D’Acquisto pulled a bag of marijuana out of a locked cabinet and hid it in a garage with about a dozen vehicles. After a few minutes, he let Monty in and commanded him — in Dutch — that it was time to find some drugs. Monty got to work, sniffing under and along the door frames of the vehicles. Then he sat down, refusing to budge. “He found it!” D’Acquisto announced as he pulled the drugs out of the car.
Then he gave Monty what he really wanted: a bright green tennis ball. K-9 officers don’t get any dog treats during their tenure, but D’Acquisto assured me that Monty would get spoiled after he retired from the force in 7 or more years.
While we raced to the scene, I was surprised that drivers on the highway didn’t seem to know what to do when they saw the lights flashing in their rearview mirror. “Brake lights are my friend,” D’Acquisto noted as a car hit the brakes and moved to the right lane. Some followed the law to a T, pulling to the side and stopping.
After turning off the highway and onto the county road, Deputy D’Acquisto’s approach changed. As we neared the address he was dispatched to investigate, he killed the siren and the flashing lights. We pulled over to the side of the road, and he got out to investigate.
Before he left, D’Acquisto told me that I should stay in the car and that if anything happened, he had a special button with him that could release Monty from the squad car.
For 10 minutes, Monty whined and panted, waiting anxiously for his partner to return. He let out a relieved bark when D’Acquisto walked back to the car. “Pocket dial,” D’Acquisto said. The person who had dialed 9-1-1, hung up, and sent us speeding into the countryside had accidentally dialed his phone while it was tucked inside the pocket of his jeans.
Even though it felt like a lot of work for an accidental 9-1-1 dial, D’Acquisto took it in stride. He would rather check to make sure everything was okay. That’s the heart of D’Acquisto’s service, “I enjoy getting to know people in the community,” he said. “One traffic stop might be the only contact a citizen has with the Sheriff’s Department in 10 years.”
D’Acquisto also noted that a warning could have the same behavioral effect as a ticket, so tickets aren’t always necessary.
“When you’re hearing ‘Thank you,’ you know you did a good job.”
As a County Board Supervisor, I’m allowed to go on ride-alongs. Citizens are not, however.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office, I invite you to check out the department’s video below, read about the Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Academy, or visit the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office web page to learn more about the important work they do in keeping our community safe.
Marathon County Board Supervisor | District 1
Katie Rosenberg is a Marathon County Board Supervisor representing District 1. She is passionate about engaging the community and is active on social media and in organizing neighborhood constituent meetings with her Wausau City Council counterpart, Alderman Pat Peckham. In her free time, you can find Katie enjoying the outdoors with her husband on bike, on roller skates, and in trail shoes. She also enjoys attending all manner of political events, traveling the world, and cooking up a mean vegetarian soup. Email Katie Rosenberg
You might also like…
- Partnerships Build Public Safety :: Get Involved with Marathon County Crime Stoppers
- Uniform Addressing – The Right Call
- From GARBAGE to GORGEOUS :: Former Landfill Becomes Big Draw as Sports Complex
Please email our Editorial Board with your comments, suggestions, and article ideas.
And if you spot a typo or an inaccuracy, please contact us so we can fix it. Thanks!