Snowmobile as getaway car? Warden nabs suspect in case with law enforcement teamworkWarden Pat Novesky held the phone to one ear with one hand, his coffee cup in the other as he let go of a slight smile fueled by this initial thought: “The dispatchers are messing with me.”
By: By Joanne M. Haas/Bureau of Law Enforcement, Superior Telegram
Warden Pat Novesky held the phone to one ear with one hand, his coffee cup in the other as he let go of a slight smile fueled by this initial thought: “The dispatchers are messing with me.”
Understandable when considering the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers were calling at 6:40 a.m. to ask if Novesky could help their officers with a high-speed chase involving a guy escaping a crime scene … on a snowmobile ... last Friday.
“I actually asked them to repeat the information,” Novesky said, adding he was certain the response would be a punchline to kick off the weekend.
But this was legit. And what evolved was a near textbook example of what is known officially as expanded authority – which just means area law enforcement agencies help each other to serve the public. “In northeast Wisconsin, there is not an officer on every street corner. We are all in this together and willing to help each other when the time comes.”
And one of these times was May 31.
The snowmobile escape case started when the Three Lakes Police Department attempted to arrest an individual connected to a domestic incident in the Town of Three Lakes. The individual wasn’t interested in being arrested. So he decided to flee and his vehicle of choice was a snowmobile.
“Yes, a snowmobile,” Novesky said. “Snowmobiles can operate on most surfaces. However, it destroys many of the parts. In this instance, the operator was on gravel, blacktop and grass and vegetation areas.”
Novesky left his home immediately after getting the call last Friday morning. Three Lakes Police Department told Novesky the suspect was speeding down a town road, blew through an intersection and right into a tree that had been pushed over by the storm the night before.
You think that would’ve been enough to stop the fleeing individual, right? No way.
Novesky said the suspect instead kept driving down the town road for about two miles at a high rate of speed until -- wait for it -- the road turned onto a snowmobile trail. And it was on this actual snowmobile trail, minus the snow, where the suspect crashed the snowmobile after traveling a while on blacktop and gravel and grass and vegetation -- plus into that downed tree. We are not making this up.
By this time, Novesky had teamed with the K9 unit from the Rhinelander Police Department to track the suspect who was now on foot running in the woods. Meanwhile, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department and the Three Lakes Police Department had created a perimeter around the block of woods ready to apprehend the suspect in the event he should flee the woods.
Back in the woods, Novesky and Rhinelander’s K9 unit were following the suspect who ran about a mile toward a junkyard. That’s where Novesky and the Rhinelander officers lost sight of the suspect.
Not sure where the suspect was, Novesky and the Rhinelander K9 unit searched around an old camper and semi-trailer. That's when Novesky spotted an arm under the trailer. While the dog handler held back the dog, Novesky ordered the suspect to crawl out from under the trailer. The suspect did and realized he knew the guy with the gun drawn.
“It’s a small town,” Novesky said.
“Game Warden? Are you sure you can arrest me?” the suspect asked Novesky.
Novesky answered: “I’m sure -- and now is not the best time for us to discuss it.”
They didn't and Novesky made the arrest, and turned over the suspect to the Three Lakes Police Department.
The snowmobile escape case ended well because of the excellent working relationship enjoyed by the four law enforcement agencies who work in concert to serve the communities.
“We are fortunate to have a positive working relationship here,” Novesky said, adding the Three Lakes Police Department is equipped with a boat and snowmobile patrol and has assisted on many DNR calls. “I also have helped them several times with arrest warrants, accidents and some high-risk calls including an armed robbery and attempted homicide.”
Novesky said the Expanded Authority agreement is written into state statute and built upon a mutual trust and understanding that wardens are there to help other agencies any time of day, on or off duty.
“I am confident that if I were in harm’s way that the local police would respond right from home and I would do the same.”
If you have information regarding natural resource violations, please call: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay reported information to conservation wardens. Anyone who calls the Violation Hotline or provides information can remain anonymous.