Sawyer County Sheriff Mrotek talks about the drug epidemic facing our community
Sawyer County Sheriff Doug Mrotek said, “It’s been a wonderful experience,” about his new position he’s held since September.
“After being a part of law enforcement in Hayward for 35 years, I’ve had the opportunity to establish great relationships with deputies and police officers from both Hayward and LCO,” Mrotek said.
At the leadership role, the sheriff said he gets to see the sheriff department staff at another level.
“Our community is very blessed to have this staff,” Mrotek said.
As sheriff, Mrotek said he continues to focus on building and maintaining relationships he has with other law enforcement agencies whether local or other counties.
“It’s an important part of my role. We are all in it together,” Mrotek said. “The better our relationships, the better we are going to serve our communities.”
Sheriff Mrotek said the biggest challenge facing our county is the drug epidemic. He said meth and heroin is out of control.
“It’s not just the illegal activity of using or selling drugs. It’s the additional criminal activity they get involved in to support their habits,” Mrotek said. “These two factors bring in another big challenge we face, the jail overcrowding.”
Mrotek said in 2006 Sawyer County expanded their jail to the current facility because of overcrowding then. He said it’s become a major issue again. Mrotek said Sawyer County is currently housing on average, 10 to 20 inmates per day in Bayfield County at a cost of up to $40 per inmate.
Mrotek said the county board recently allotted money for a coordinator of a new Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee.
“The big focus is to work with those incarcerated and try to reduce recidivism,” Mrotek said. “We have a big problem with repeat offenders. We need to work with them while they are incarcerated and try to help them become productive members of the community.”
Mrotek said, “We all need a purpose and we need to help them find their purpose. Education and direction is huge.”
Mrotek said what is happening in our county, our state and our nation, can’t go on long term. Our society can’t sustain it, he said. “We have to deal with it.”
On the law enforcement side, the sheriff said Sawyer County will maintain strict enforcement of drug laws, but everyone needs to focus on usage.
“Our drug investigator works closely with road deputies and other officers,” Mrotek said. “We are very focused on team efforts with our local law enforcement agencies.”
Sheriff Mrotek said although law enforcement is aware of drug activity and many homes that engage in the activity, “It’s important for people to realize we can’t just raid a house. That’s not how it works. There are constitutional rights involved. Courts have ruled differently in regards to a person’s home versus when they are out in their vehicles or in the public.”
Mrotek said they have to perform their duties within the laws, so it’s more complex with drug enforcement. He said it takes time to build cases.
“It doesn’t stop us from doing everything we can do on our part and from doing our jobs,” Mrotek said. “I encourage the community and the public to assist us any way they can.”
Mrotek said if you see something and it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t right.
“We can’t do the best job possible without the community’s help,” Mrotek said.
Sheriff Mrotek grew up in Sawyer County. His parents owned Mrotek’s Riding Stables which was later sold to Hayward Power Sports in 2000.
“My parents came to Hayward in 1960 and started the stables and snowmobile sales and repair in the winter months,” Mrotek said. “I was seven years old out in the shop fixing snowmobiles and helping people. I’ve been serving people my whole life.”
Mrotek said as a child he was active and busy. He said he learned his work ethic and sense of responsibility raised on the family business.
Mrotek’s father passed in 1995 and his mother continued to run the business until selling to the Schroeder family.
After graduating high school in 1981, Mrotek went to vocational school in Superior for Welding. He began working at Louisiana-Pacific in 1982 where he maintained full time employment until October of 1991. During his time at L-P, he was in maintenance and then became a log yard heavy equipment operator.
He was also working part-time at the Hayward Police Department throughout those years and became a full-time officer in 1991.
In May of 2014, Mrotek was hired as Town of Hayward Police Chief where he served until his appointment as sheriff by Governor Walker.
Sheriff Mrotek has three brothers, Don, Darryl and Dale as well as a sister, Diane. He also has three boys of his own. Darryl, Dustin and Chase. Darryl works as a welder in the Twin Cities and Dustin works at Arclin while his youngest, Chase, is a senior at Hayward High School.