LOWV Questions: Mike Lukas
For the City-Times
What are your qualifications and interests for being sheriff?
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire and have worked in numerous areas of Portage County law enforcement for over 20 years. I began my career as a patrol deputy and was a field training officer, firearms instructor, dive team member, and a special response team member. After eight years I was promoted to sergeant and have since been in charge of the firearms program, DNR patrols/safety programs, court services supervisor, Crime Stoppers, and safety education programs in the schools and communities. I also was a sergeant in the detective bureau and was assigned a cold case homicide, which, with cooperation from numerous other agencies, we were able to solve.
Educating both the youth and adults of Portage County has been a priority for me. I have found that when all members of a community are informed, involved, and connected, everyone wins. As Sheriff, I want the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to promote education and communication, and to build a bridge between the community and the Sheriff’s office.
Portage County is viewed as a leader in the state regarding alternatives to incarceration. What is your view on alternatives to incarceration and have you participated in these efforts?
With jail overcrowding, I feel we need to explore all avenues available to keep people productive in the community. Offenders need to be held accountable. However, they also need opportunities to get help and counseling–so they don’t reoffend—while still remaining contributing members of society. People can be kept out of incarceration and continue working while still being monitored. I’ve observed Justice Works and reviewed information about Drug Court. I feel Justice Works, Home Detention Monitoring, Day Reporting and the use of ignition interlock devices could be expanded and Drug Court could be implemented in Portage County. Each of these will play important roles in future alternative sentencing.
The Sheriff’s department has many roles and responsibilities supported by a 10 million dollar budget. Help us understand the major expenses of the department and your expertise.
The Portage County Sheriff’s office budget is over 10 million dollars. The major expense in any budget will always be wages and benefits. Currently about 85% of the budget is allocated for that. The other 15% of the budget must cover such expenses as fleet maintenance, officer training, safety, corrections, and DNR services. Over the past 20 years, I have been responsible for the following budgets:
Firearms – Training and Supplies
Safety – School and Community
Training – Operations, Corrections, and Communications
DNR – Patrol and Safety
It has always been important to me that I spend funds as responsibly as possible and I have worked hard to be frugal with each of these budgets.
Is cyber crime common in Portage County? How does the department investigate it and assist victims?
Currently the Portage County Sheriff’s office has two individuals that deal with cybercrime. Our office is equipped with advanced computers and software to investigate cybercrime that occurs both on computers and cell phones. In 2013 we analyzed 67 pieces of digital media. We currently deal with cybercrime on a reactive basis. I f we receive calls that deal with any type of cybercrime activity, the officers assigned to investigate can conduct them with the training and equipment we currently have. If our officers need assistance with cybercrime investigations, we contact the Department of Justice or the FBI.
I realize that this area of crime is not going away anytime soon. I want to make sure our officers are properly trained in this area and that we explore ways to keep our equipment and software up-to-date. I would also explore ways for the Sheriff’s office to become more proactive in conducting cybercrime investigations.
I have been active and involved in educating our youth in cyber safety and I want to expand these programs in our communities. The parents of our youth also need to learn how to protect their children in areas of cybercrime.