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Posted on: July 27, 2018

Police Dept. Statement about July 23 Armed Robbery Investigation

On July 23, 2018, at 1:21 AM, Law Enforcement from the Stevens Point Police Department and Portage County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of an armed robbery near the intersection of Center Point Dr. and Third St. in the City of Stevens Point.

During the initial minutes of the investigation, three different individuals were stopped, and one of those was stopped twice by different Law Enforcement personnel. The facts leading to officers’ reasonable suspicion to stop and investigate are quite clear.

1. The severity of the incident being investigated - person robbed at gunpoint.
2. The proximity to the location of the armed robbery, and the immediate time period after the incident.
3. Law Enforcement were seeking a suspect, possible accomplices, and witnesses information.
4. The suspect descriptors, clothing descriptors, bag, and a suspect who possibly fled on bicycle.

At 1:30 AM, an Officer observed a person riding away from him on a bicycle. The person had caught the Officer's attention based on clothing descriptors, a bag, and immediate location and time to the armed robbery. That individual, Deandre Pettiford-Bates, was stopped and questioned regarding this investigation.

At 2:01 AM, Bates posted on Facebook his perception of his contact with Officers and Deputies. It is clear that Bates' perspective and that of the Officers who  spoke with him in the contact differ.

Officers are trained to investigate while keeping themselves, their fellow officers, and the community safe, and this approach can appear to be short or blunt at times.

Security footage of the contact between Bates and the Officers supports the Officers' due diligence and actions in protecting the community while investigating the crime that took place.

If an Officer fails to stop to investigate, they are not doing their job to a satisfactory, community-expected level. The Stevens Point administration expects Officers to investigate these types of situations fully. In addition, our community expects our Officers to investigate and bring to conclusion such events.

In this case, within 12 hours of the incident the suspect was taken into custody.

Here are a few more points to be taken into consideration.

1. Our mission and core values are the foundation that guide the Stevens Point Police Department. Should an officer make a poor decision, we will thoroughly investigate and hold all parties accountable. However, the opposite is also true, should someone make an allegation about police that is false, we want to make sure we present the facts and clear the Officers from false allegations.
2. We value community partners and will meet and discuss any issue, including tough issues like racism.
3. Our reputation is important and Officers work hard every day to gain trust from our community. We gain that trust by engaging the community at a high level, listening to our stakeholders, resolving issues with the best outcome in mind with our community partners, being transparent with all our partners, and holding ourselves accountable.
4. The severity and urgency of this type of call - where a person’s life is threatened - adds to the level of risk officers and civilians are confronted with in that moment.

Bates' perspective of the contact and that of the Officers who spoke with him differ. It is these very differences of perspective that have Police Departments and Sheriff’s Offices nationwide sponsoring Citizens Academies much like the joint academy that takes place with multiple public safety agencies including the Stevens Point Police Department and the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.

Those seeking to have a better understanding of Public Safety, and the reasons why we do what we do, are invited to enroll in the upcoming Academy. Please contact the Stevens Point Police Department for Academy availability.

When instances such as this arise, there is a great opportunity for dialogue that creates a better understanding between citizens and Public Safety Personnel’s perspectives that the Stevens Point Police Department welcomes.

Martin Skibba
Chief of Police
Stevens Point Police Department
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City of Stevens Point, 1515 Strongs Ave., Stevens Point, WI 54481 | Phone 715-346-1569