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September 2014

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Police chiefs mull drug program for Lake Country Municipal Court

Program could serve as sentencing alternative

Village of Hartland - Four Lake Country police chiefs will meet next month with representatives of Your Choice-Live to discuss whether a drug and alcohol abuse awareness and education programs might be used as a sentencing alternative in Lake Country Municipal Court for young offenders guilty of underage drinking, drunken driving, or other drug- and alcohol-related offenses.

The police chiefs of Hartland, Oconomowoc, Summit and Oconomowoc Lake are members of the Operations Subcommittee of Lake Country Municipal Court.

The court serves the towns of Oconomowoc, Merton, Ixonia, Erin, Lisbon, Delafield as well as the villages of Merton, Hartland, Lac La Belle, Summit, Nashotah, Dousman, Chenequa, Sullivan, Sussex and the City of Oconomowoc.

The chiefs scheduled a Jan. 10 meeting with Sandi Lybert of the Town of Merton, one of the founders of Your Choice- Live. Your Choice-Live is a Hartland-based, nonprofit organization of parents whose families have encountered severe drug and alcohol abuse.

The family members, along with trainedcounselors, offer a series of workshops and other educational programs regarding the causes of abuse, the choices teenagers and family members face and the consequences of those choices.

Lybert is expected to outline details of the 12-hour program called "Detour" that Your Choice-Live wants to offer offenders and their parents as an alternative to fines, drivers' license suspensions and other penalties meted out by the court.

The local program is patterned after Prime for Life, a national drug and alcohol abuse program that provides certified trainers to program participants.

One of the components of the local program is the requirement that parents participate in at least two hours of the 12-hour course, according to Lybert.

However, the court's staff, as well as some of the police chiefs, pointed out during last week's subcommittee meeting that previous efforts to incorporate drug and alcohol awareness programs as sentencing alternatives have been unsuccessful because of the difficulty in tracking offenders' participation and successful completion of such programs.

Village of Summit Police Chief James Race added that all of the communities served by the court would to have agree on what role, if any, Your Choice-Live and the Detour program would play in sentencing.

"Neither the court or the individual municipalities have the resources to keep track of who is in, and who is not in, the program," he said.

Hartland Police Chief Robert J. Rosch said another alternative would be for Municipal Judge Timothy Kay to refer youngsters and their parents to the program rather than providing it as a sentencing alternative.

Rosch and Oconomowoc Chief David Beguhn, said parents who suspect their youngsters are involved in drugs or alcohol often ask police officers where the parents can go for help with their children.

The chiefs suggested that having Kay hand out information during court sessions about Your Choice programs would help parents, children, and law enforcement officials.

Kay said he wants to learn more about the program before formally endorsing it.

The subcommittee could chose to make a recommendation to the court's Administration Committee, which is composed of representatives of the communities served by the court.

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