LOWV Questions: Robert Golla
For the City-Times
What are your qualifications and interests for being sheriff?
I have been employed by the Portage County Sheriff’s Department for over 23 years and have experience in a larger facility during my time at the Milwaukee County House of Correction from 1989 to 1991. I have worked with city and county leaders to improve the quality of life for all citizens of Portage County through my work in many areas including:
- Just Cause simply states that no employee who has completed a probationary period shall be disciplined, suspended, or terminated without Just Cause. In other words, an employer needs a reason to fire an employee.
- I have introduced “The Bully Project” into the Juvenile Detention Facility. “The Bully Project” will educate our juveniles in the detention center to make better choices and educate the staff of how to assist those troubled kids thereby reducing recidivism.
- As sheriff I will advocate to protect the citizens of Portage County through common sense gun legislation. I favor universal background checks for every firearm sold. We already require a background check for firearms sold at Fleet Farm or Gander Mountain, this same standard should applied at gun shows and online.
- I am active in the Democratic Party as a delegate who has assisted in writing numerous resolutions, some that have been written into legislation. Protecting the citizens of Portage County includes knowledge, courage, and integrity not just on our streets, but in our courthouses as well.
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?
Alternatives to Incarceration will play an integral role in the future of our sheriff’s department. As sheriff I will solve this problem by greatly increasing the use of our Home Detention Program. In my opinion the HDP program is under utilized and we could save significant bed space and consequently budgetary room by placing more inmates at home where they would be monitored 24/7 and they would maintain their ties to the community through their families and their employment.
The Day Report program is currently being put to good use and I would like to see that expanded to include a new program sponsored by Citizen Action of Wisconsin called “Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment” (SBIRT). SBIRT will introduce insurance alternatives under the Affordable Care Act to provide young adults with treatment they need to get clean and stay clean thereby reducing recidivism.
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 largest expenses in our sheriff’s department are the jail and the direct expenses related to housing inmates. Due to high turnover rates, there is currently a substantial staff shortage in the jail. This shortage is being covered by filling many vacant slots with higher-paid, higher-ranking members of the sheriff’s department. I feel that more emphasis needs to be placed on staff retention and keeping a current, viable list of qualified potential employees. Keeping our department fully staffed will greatly reduce our overtime expenses and help our bottom line.
Is cyber crime common in Portage County? How does the department investigate it and assist victims?
The problem of cyber crime is an issue that faces all of us in the 21st century, Portage County is no different. The Sheriff’s department has a dedicated team of detectives to investigate computer crimes. Cyber crime encompasses much more than just identity theft, it includes fraud, child pornography, internet scams, and child enticement.
You can take steps to protect yourself from identity theft like creating strong passwords and updating them frequently, being aware of what you share (Social Security #’s, bank account #’s, credit card #’s) and make sure that information is shared in a secure manner.
Victim assistance programs are available through the District Attorney’s Office. They provide information, referral, and support to the citizens of Portage County who have been victims of any crime.