When Keystone Cops Attach

So, facetiously, what caused the Wisconsin Capitol Police to, FINALLY, put up the crime scene tape in the Capitol rotunda on July 25? Was it threats to the lives of lawmakers? Was it staffers of elected representatives once again being party to the crime of criminal trespass?  Was it protestors vandalizing the historic building’s expensive marble?  Not a chance.  When it comes to these actual events, the Capitol Police appear to don their blinders, even if video captures the perpetrators committing criminal offenses.

Yet the Capitol Police did affect an actual felony arrest this week—the crime: the popping of a protestor’s balloon. 

Go ahead, laugh, but one can imagine Chief Tubbs and his investigators chalking-out the balloon as it tumbled to the marble floor.  ‘We need to expand the scene,’ one of the investigators shouts to a police officer in uniform.  ‘There may be DNA left behind from the cutting instrument.’

Even though this incident sounds like a goofy skit from Saturday Night Live, the Capitol Police actually took a man into custody and referred the alleged perpetrator to the Dane County DA’s office for the felony change of recklessly endangering safety.  Now, Ron Blair, a facilities manager at the Capitol, is on leave from his job with state government. The Capitol Police allege that Blair, in an attempt to pop the balloon, waived a sharp object. 

Ironically, late last March, the Dane County District Attorney’s office finally got around to charging Katherine R. Windels of Cross Plains. According the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Windels sent an e-mail to 15 lawmakers that read, in part: “Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!” and “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.

“I hope you have a good time in hell,” Windels allegedly wrote, explaining that she would end the lives of targeted lawmakers via bombings and by “putting a nice little bullet in your head.”

Charged with a serious felony, the Dane County DA’s office refused to have Windels arrested. Instead, officials permitted her to stroll into intake court to answer a summons. 

Politics, I am sure, had nothing to do with the way either of these investigations proceeded, right?

This balloon popping incident, at best, merits a civil forfeiture disorderly conduct citation, which will then allow Chief Tubbs’  forensic investigators to remove the crime scene tape before the Dane County Coroner orders an autopsy.

A Note to Law Enforcement Vendors: Canadian Border Police Need 21st Century Drug Testing Kits

For Americans spending a portion of their summers hiking and fishing in Canada, here is a post it note: leave the 5W-30 at home.

Janet Goodin, a 66-year-old grandmother from Warroad, Minnesota, found that out the hard way in April. 

Looking to drop a few greenbacks at a Canadian bingo hall just a hop, skip, and jump over the border in the Manitoba town of Sprague, Goodin stopped to pay a required duty.  Taking an apparent page out of the TSA’s policy manual, agents from the Canadian Border Services flagged Goodin for additional screening. 

“So I got up there and they pulled me over for a search,” Goodin told Minnesota Public Radio.  “I was just concerned for being late for bingo. I wasn’t concerned for anything else.”

Little did Goodin know that the cargo secreted in her vehicle might land her a role in the Canadian version of Midnight Express.

A border agent found a canning jar inside of Goodin’s vehicle, which, like most of us, she shares with other family members. The agent asked the grandmother what was inside the receptacle, but Goodin did not know.  The agent took the bottle for preliminary drug testing, which, the agent claimed, came back positive for heroin.

The Canadian Border Service then arrested and stripped searched Goodin.  A magistrate set her bail at $5,000 and a $15,000 surety, requiring her daughters to back the note with the titles of their American properties.  However, a judge refused to accept the titles as collateral, which meant Goodin, living primarily on a fixed income, remained a guest at a Canadian jail for the next 12 days.

But when the suspected heroin was sent to a Canadian crime lab, a chemist discovered the brownish substance to be dirty motor oil.   

The response from the Canadian Border Services: ah, well, never mind. 

“Whenever the CBSA becomes aware of erroneous field tests, we will review that case and determine appropriate next steps and where appropriate, take corrective action,” spokeswoman Lisa White told the Winnipeg Free Press.

Of course, Canadian authorities did drop the charges against Goodin. Nonetheless, the experience has understandably left a bad taste in her mouth. 

“Two weeks out of somebody else’s life might not seem so long,” Goodin is quoted in the Winnipeg newspaper, “but when you get to be my age and you see the end coming, every day counts.”


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. 

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

3 Responses

  1. Glenn Frankovis

    The balloon popping incident would never have happened if Tubbs had been doing his job from the beginning. Just another example of ineptitude in what they call law enforcement “leadrship” out in Madison. As for Ron Blair, I’ve met him a couple times while part of preliminary meetings for Tea Party events, and he has always impressed me as a very conscientious guy who cares about the Capitol Building and grounds.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

  2. Dino

    When common sense isn”t so common bad things happen to good people. I’m glad this site was pointed out to me. Good article Steve.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm

  3. Glenn Frankovis

    Any truth to the rumor that Tubbs has people looking into reports from the left that Ron Blair was at this event? Maybe there’s a copycat running around popping balloons now. Where’s Janet Napolitano on all this?

    Beaver Dam hot-air balloon accident injures five

    By Erin Richards of the Journal Sentinel
    July 30, 2011 |

    Five people were injured in a hot-air balloon incident during a fundraising event Saturday in the Town of Beaver Dam, according to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.

    Deputy John Monaghan said in a release that winds changed direction and speed, causing a tethered hot-air balloon to roll across the ground. The balloon was giving rides while tethered at the Beaver Dam Conservation Club, W9554 County Highway G.

    The incident was reported at about 6 p.m., and the sole passenger in the balloon received minor injuries. Four spectators also received minor injuries. The pilot was uninjured and the balloon and basket were not damaged.

    Sundog Ballooning was providing the rides. The incident is under investigation by the FAA Milwaukee office, according to the Sheriff’s Department.(1)

    July 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm

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