Concealed Wisconsin Commentary
by Andy Anderson
Originally Posted in The Northwestern

As the new Concealed Carry law goes into full effect, sheriffs departments are retraining deputies on the proper procedures for stopping drivers carrying a concealed weapon.  The training involves role playing realistic traffic stop scenarios with other deputies playing the part of verbally non-compliant drivers.

It is the opinion of Concealed Wisconsin’s host, Andy Anderson, that the training is an important step towards protecting the deputies safety and the drivers rights.  Unfortunately we’ve already heard stories from listeners that have been treated like criminals after being pulled over by a misinformed officer who acted as though he’d never heard of the new law.

In the mock scenarios, deputies pull over vehicles for speeding and deputy “actors” play the non-compliant driver, who is not eager to hand over his permit to carry a concealed weapon or a driver’s license.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state are going through new training to prepare officers for situations they can
expect to encounter now that Wisconsin residents are able to carry concealed weapons.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has received 57,461 concealed carry permit applications since the law went into effect Nov. 1, and had issued 25,995 permits as of Wednesday, December 14th. The permits are good for five years from the date of issuance.

Mack said the sheriff’s department’s training helps deputies know exactly how to react during traffic stops when the driver or passengers have a weapon — which they can legally have as long as they have a license to carry it.

“I don’t want my officers to overreact, but also not to under react when they make a traffic stop and someone in the vehicle is carrying a weapon,” Mack said. “We want to train our officers so they make the right decisions. I don’t want them to become complacent.”

The law allows citizens who are age 21 and older to lawfully carry a handgun, an electric weapon, a knife other than a switchblade knife or a billy club in a concealed manner.

Schwerke gave thumbs up to the scenario-based training.

“The training will help us a lot,” he said. “It makes us more aware of what can happen in a traffic stop.”

Mack said about 90 sheriff’s department personnel will go through the training on traffic stops. He said the department’s training program follows Wisconsin Department of Justice guidelines.

The Oshkosh Police Department also has been preparing its nearly 100 officers by providing ongoing information from the state Justice Department about the new law, said police Sgt. Todd Wrage. He said officers would receive scenario-based training in early 2012.

“I try to tell the officers that in most cases someone who has a CCW permit and is carrying a weapon is not going to be problematic,” Wrage said. “People have the right to carry a concealed weapon with a permit. As long as those who carry a permit respect that right and officers respect their right as well, but still maintain safe practices, I don’t foresee many problems.”

Everyone who receives a license to carry a concealed weapon also receives a brochure from the Department of Justice about the law and what to do in any interactions with law enforcement. Interacting with law enforcement is also part of many concealed carry classes.

Wrage said officers will ask during a traffic stop or under other circumstances whether the person has a concealed carry permit and if they are carrying a weapon with them.

Winnebago County sheriff John Matz said the law will put deputies on a higher alert level.

“We might get called out on an everyday situation, but the new twist is there could be a weapon involved that we normally didn’t have,” Matz said. “Before, we were the only ones who could bring weapons to a scene, but we’ll have to deal with things a little differently now. We typically deal with good people who make poor decisions, and now weapons
are added to those poor decisions.”

Oshkosh Police Chief Scott Greuel said he’s concerned about officers who are called to high risk situations such as taverns or other social gatherings where alcohol is served. He’s also concerned that citizens may leave their weapons in
vehicles, becoming victims of theft, which would put guns in the wrong hands.

He said Oshkosh Police Department’s training will include how officers can diffuse situations where alcohol is served and
citizens who carry weapons into those establishments.

“We ask that people communicate with us. We’re training our officers in the knowledge that someone will be armed,” he said. “Communication will be the key in circumstances where our officers run across people who are armed. There’s no reason it should turn into a bad situation.”

Greuel said he’s heard that people are getting concealed carry permits with the intent of only carrying a weapon as certain times — such as self-protection from bears or other animals while hunting or when they carry large sums of money.

“People just want to be covered by having a permit, meaning there might be a circumstance where they need to put a gun in their car or carry a concealed weapon,” he said. “I think most people have no intent to carry a firearm every day and
everywhere, but there may be circumstances where they feel there is a need and the permit will allow them to do that.”