When it comes to racking up arrests, no state can beat Wisconsin, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A study by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance found the state led the nation in 2002 with 8,286 arrests per 100,000 residents; the national average is 4,839. It was no one-year blip: As far back as 1993, Wisconsin ranked No. 1. “To be number one and to be that far above average is shocking to me,” said Dale Knapp, the study’s author. What makes the ranking strange is that Wisconsinites are less likely to commit crimes, ranking 45 in the level of violent crime and 36 in property crime.
“Wisconsin’s large number of police likely play a role,” Knapp’s study suggested, citing a Census Bureau survey of government employees showing Wisconsin had 2.8 police officers per 1,000 residents, compared with 2.7 nationally in 2002. “I think the more officers you have, you’re going to have more arrests,” said Jim Cardinal of the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee criminal justice professor Stan Stojkovic said the higher arrest rate here may merely reflect a different style of police reporting. “Wisconsin does an awful job of separating out civil forfeitures from arrests,” he said. “In other states, for disorderly conduct, vandalism or a liquor law violation, it’s usually not recorded as an arrest.” Dave Steingraber, former police chief for Menomonee Falls and Middleton, said this approach is particularly widespread for juvenile incidents. “There’s a practice of counting any documented contact with a juvenile as an arrest.”