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Schulteis, Kemps testify at Capitol in support of Good Samaritan Law | By Washington County Sheriff

February 18, 2022 – Washington County, WI – Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis and Detective Lieutenant Tim Kemps testified on Thursday before the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety in Madison.
Photo credit: Washington County Sheriff, Wisconsin

The testimony was to express support for Senate Bill 878, which is focused on clarifying Wisconsin’s “Good Samaritan Law” about drug overdose victims.

Senator Duey Stroebel authored the Senate bill and Representative Rick Gundrum authored the companion Assembly Bill 921.
Current Wisconsin law provides that an aider of someone who is experiencing a drug overdose is immune from prosecution for certain drug offenses if they call 911 or seek medical help for someone in need. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office identified an issue with the current law through the investigation of several tragic overdose cases over the past several years.
In one case, a male was experiencing an overdose and his friend, who was with him, texted other friends for seven hours telling them how she could not wake him up. Friends encouraged her to call 911, but she refused until eight hours later. By the time authorities arrived, the victim had been deceased for several hours.
In another case, the boyfriend called his mother asking what he should do. She encouraged him to discard any evidence of drug use. The boyfriend then researched on the internet how to do CPR. He conducted CPR for some time until he went outside for a cigarette break. He resumed CPR for a while until he eventually called 911.
Washington County has investigated several other cases in which people took cell phone videos of victims overdosing rather than seeking timely help. In one case, friends drove around with the victim deceased in their car for twelve hours while they withdrew money from the victim’s bank and eventually disposed of the body in a marsh. In other cases, people have driven around with overdosing victims for hours until they drop them off at the hospital several hours too late.
These are just a few examples that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office deals with on a regular basis that individuals have been immune from prosecution for certain drug offenses.
The proposed bill would change the wording in Wisconsin Statute to require aiders to seek help “as soon as reasonably possible and without unnecessary delay.”
A family member of a Washington County overdose victim also testified in support of the bill. The Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our sincere thanks to the family members of victims who share in the sheriff’s desire for reform.
Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis has been a leading advocate for this piece of proposed legislation. Schulteis said, “This is a common-sense piece of legislation that should have bi-partisan support. The current law intends to save lives. The fact that these cases, which quite frankly shock the conscience, are given the privilege of immunity makes me sick. If you reach out for help to save a life, you should be provided immunity under current law. If you delay unnecessarily, you should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Our goal as public safety professionals is to save lives, and I believe this piece of legislation will help us accomplish that. I would also like to thank Lieutenant Detective Tim Kemps for his leadership on this issue and for shedding light on a problem that has a statewide impact. ”

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