West Central MEG sees strength in numbers Part 2: The Sheriffs’ Board of Directors


In part one of the “West Central MEG sees strength in numbers article,” appearing in the Monday, April 29th edition of the Monroe County Herald, focus was directed to Investigator Rob Walensky, the coordinator for West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group (WCMEG). Today’s article is Part 2, and will spotlight the Sheriff's for the six counties in WCMEG: Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, Jackson, and Trempealeau.

The Sheriffs of these six counties make up the WCMEG Board of Directors. It was made clear that any agency, with at least one fulltime officer, is given the opportunity to join the WCMEG unit. The understanding is that all decisions are made by the WCMEG board. However, meetings are held, so that opinions and suggestions, along with any concerns, may be voiced to the board directly, in an interactive exchange.

The Herald interview took place at the La Crosse Hall of Justice, on March 19th, at 1:30 p.m.

The Questions and the Answers

The first question posed to the group of Sheriff's was how they, personally, view the WCMEG, in relation to the rising drug activity in the six-county region they cover. Sheriff of Jackson County, Duane Waldera, was the first to respond. “When I started, there was one investigator in Jackson County. We had just as much drug activity [as La Crosse County] but we did not have the resources to be proactive,” Sheriff Waldera shared. “MEG allowed Jackson County to become more resourceful, allowing us to become more proactive in combating the drug activity in our county. We would not be able to do what we do today, without MEG.”

 Sheriff John Siegel, of La Crosse County, responded, “The partnerships [in WCMEG] are one of the biggest pieces why this all works. Everything that comes into La Crosse County is coming through another county in MEG, and everything that leaves is going to them.”

Sheriff Siegel iterated that drug pipelines can be identified quicker, through the teamwork in the WCMEG. “Through these partnerships, we are seeing the same names and the same people. It is not just happening in our community, but in multiple communities. Because of this, it is much easier to put a case together, allowing us to prosecute more expediently.” 

“We all have a limited amount of resources,” Sheriff Wes Revels, of Monroe County stated. “But, when we get together, we have a large group of very professional investigators gathering that information and sharing that information, for the purposes of reducing the drug trafficking that we are well aware, is growing. Together, we develop those cases for the purpose of prosecution. Quite frankly, we are working towards making our communities and the people we serve, as safe as we can, with the resources we have available.”

Sheriff Brett Semingson, of Trempealeau County, stated, “I happen to be down an investigator right now, and I know that I can count on this group to come up and be there, if we happen to have that big stop with large quantities [of drugs].” Then Sheriff Semingson reiterated a factual statement that WCMEG Coordinator, Rob Walensky, had told the Herald, weeks earlier. “Even if it is not related to drugs, all of the equipment is available for all of the Sheriffs’ offices, such as surveillance equipment and manpower, which proves incredibly helpful to us smaller counties that otherwise may not be able to budget for such equipment.”

Then Sheriff Semingson referred to the reality that WCMEG is a game changer for Trempealeau County. “Like Duane [Waldera] in Jackson [county] I have a small department and not a lot of funds. I rely heavily on this group.”

Sheriff Wes Revels, of Monroe County, interjected a quick statement to the Herald. “There is a saying out there, with the Badger State Sheriff's Association, ‘Sheriff's helping Sheriff's.’ WCMEG is just one example of sheriffs working together, for the purposes of accomplishing a singular mission, or goal.”

Sheriff Revels went on to inform the Herald that no billing or invoices ever go back and forth, between the WCMEG members. “We all know that at different times, we are all going to need help. We work together for the overall strength of law enforcement.”

The New Guys  

As mentioned in part one, the new guys in WCMEG are the members of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. They officially joined WCMEG in January of 2024. “We are the smallest and the newest member of WCMEG,” said Sheriff Dale McCullick, of Crawford County. “My guys have been helping and assisting MEG, but now we are actually a member, so we get to get in on the resources and equipment. I really cannot speak to much here, other than to say we are excited and looking forward to this incredible collaboration.”

Sheriff Revels spoke up, a bit later in the interview, stating why WCMEG was so keen on adding Crawford County into the MEG mix. “His [Sheriff McCullick] investigators are very, very good. They were building some good cases, so we wanted Crawford County to join the MEG unit.” There were a few verbalizations and head nods, all in agreement of the extraordinary investigators of Crawford County, by the sheriffs of WCMEG.

Sheriff John Siegel, of La Crosse County, added, “Here in La Crosse, we were seeing his investigators on a regular basis, but they were not a part of our group. We are thrilled to have them on board.”

The Agreement

 Sheriff Revels, of Monroe County, informed the Herald during the group interview that there is an agreement amongst all counties involved in the WCMEG. “All monies taken during the course of an investigation, as it relates to asset forfeiture, those seizures and monies go back into the MEG unit,” Revels explained. “The money will then be available to pay for the overtime, for what we want to accomplish, and that is our work as drug investigators.”

Equipment and Hard Work

Sheriff Wes Revels spoke to all the hard work and importance of good equipment. “The hard work actually starts with each individual county, with their investigators gathering information and building cases locally. That autonomy is important, as we are all sheriffs, we all have our individual responsibilities and authority, within our county that we serve. It is important for each one of those Sheriff’s Offices to have high quality investigators that start in building those cases, through the intelligence they have gathered.”

When the sheriff’s offices have strong footing, it makes MEG even stronger, as a fortified force, professionally ready to join the investigators of any of the six counties in WCMEG and ensure a well-built case will stand when brought to trial.

The Advent of Technology

Another topic that surfaced during the joint sheriff’s session of the WCMEG was technology, and how with the advent of the internet, especially media platforms that allow for instant messaging, have taken the drug investigations in each county from being a local endeavor, to reaching into other counties, states, and even other countries. “Back then we could have probably handled a lot of our own cases,” said Sheriff Semingson, of Trempealeau County. “We just did a case that resulted in an arrest in Puerto Rico, that went even further down, into another country. [It was possible] because of our partnership with MEG and other drug groups, throughout Wisconsin. I wouldn’t have been able to do that, by myself, back in 1990.”

Another comparison drawn by the enforcers was that in 1990, a drug deal was set up over a pay phone. When the deal is set up over a payphone, it is one call. With technology in a flux of crescendo, the WCMEG Board of Directors stated that the location may change up to 15 times, proving difficult for surveillance to keep up with the rapid change of venue.

The Reason Runs Deep for Sheriffs

During the interview session, the Herald took note that all of the Sheriff's brought the conversation back around to protecting their communities and keeping them safe from criminal enterprises who care nothing about community, and have no issue with destroying families forever. “We know that narcotics and the trafficking of drugs destroys families,” Sheriff Revels acknowledged. “We go back to the War on Drugs, and that can be characterized as a failure. This is much different than that. We are trying to make an impact on our communities, so that we keep that safe environment for the people within our communities to go about living their lives in a safe and family-oriented manner.”

Access of Data and Chain of Command

Sheriff Revels reiterated that the six sheriffs are the leadership of the WCMEG. “In addition to us as leadership, Rob [Walensky] is here as coordinator. All of the investigators then filter down from there. If they need help in coordinating the intelligence or information gathering, related to an investigation, our coordinator can help them anytime. Also, state resources are always available to them as well.”

It was further stated at the interview that when investigations take the WCMEG members out of the six counties, they are instantly looking for the MEG coordinator in whatever counties their investigations may take them. “Here we contact Rob [Walensky], and in other areas we will contact the person in Rob’s position there,” said Jackson County Sheriff, Duane Waldera. “La Crosse does a great job of hosting the WCMEG, taking on some of the extra costs that come along with the undertaking. We can always use donations. We try to fund WCMEG as best we can, so that the cost to our internal budgets are not impacted heavily.”

“There has never been a more important time than now, for us to communicate and network,” said Vernon County Sheriff, Roy Torgerson. “For us, as a small agency, we are able to pool those resources, like vehicles and reimbursed overtime. We all have a piece in the puzzle, and like Sheriff Revels said, we are sheriffs helping sheriffs. Everything always comes back around full circle, every time.”

Sheriff Torgeson went on to reiterate the consensus statement within the group of law enforcers, that the main objective is always to keep their communities safe. “Fentanyl scares me to death, and it is important that we keep that at bay. Our goal is to keep the drug dealers the heck out of these six counties.”

The importance of Coming Forward

One of the elements that comes along with professional leaders working towards a common goal that can only be attained through teamwork and trust, is the element of consensus. A flurry of head nods and agreement rolled through the room when the subject of community involvement came up. “We cannot do this alone,” Sheriff Siegel, of La Crosse County, stated. “We need witnesses. We need people to step up and have the courage to do so. We know that there is a degree of fear that comes along with stepping forward. We want to reassure them of the anonymous avenues, like Crime Stoppers, that they can utilize.” Sheriff Siegel went on to reiterate how important the community’s involvement is. “The community is so important. Their information is what starts cases. I want to emphasize courage and bravery for witnesses to step forward. It should be understood that communities need to give us as much solid information as they can, as we are limited in the amount of surveillance we can budget in. The more detailed information the community can give us, the quicker we get rid of the criminals and their bad element.”

From the Editor

 In sitting down with the six sheriffs and WCMEG coordinator, Investigator Rob Walensky, I gained a strong insight into the commitment of these sheriffs, their agencies, and all police departments and law enforcers that show up to the WCMEG meetings, in order to fight the criminal enterprises that seek to destroy our communities through their total disregard for healthy families and safe neighborhoods.

With the greed and reckless abandon for their own financial gains, drug dealers do not seek for the betterment of our precious communities and have a total disregard for the hell and terror they bring into family homes, obliterating those families forever.

I want to thank Sheriff Wes Revels, for turning me onto this story. I want to thank Investigator Rob Walensky for his time and gracious follow ups for the stories. I wish to thank all members of the WCMEG, for entrusting me to cover your story, which coincides within the etched tablets of human history: Good versus Evil. I ask of the communities in these six counties, to reach out and attend to our civic duty of protecting each other, by reporting the dark elements of these criminals to the proper authorities, so that we may reach toward the goal of safer communities, healthier families, and an understanding that we are all in this together. 

Benny Mailman, WCMEG, Monroe County Herald. Sheriff Monroe County, Sheriff Crawford County, Sheriff La Crosse County, Sheriff Vernon County, Sheriff Jackson County, Sheriff Trempealeau County


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