(The Center Square) — Last weekend’s murder of a St. Croix County deputy has made 2023 the deadliest year for law enforcement in Wisconsin in the past 20 years.
Deputy Kaitie Leising died during a drunk driving stop Saturday night. Investigators with the Wisconsin Department of Justice say a convicted rapist and registered sex offender pulled a gun and shot her.
St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson on Tuesday said Leising’s death has shaken his department, and law enforcement across the state.
“Wisconsin right now has the highest number of law enforcement officers killed in the last 20 years,” the sheriff said. “We’re in May. What does our future hold?”
Leising’s death comes less than a month after two other northwest Wisconsin officers, Chetek Police Officer Emily Breidenbach and Cameron Police Officer Hunter Scheel, were killed by a wanted man during another traffic stop. Milwaukee Police Officer Peter Jerving was shot and killed in a struggle with an armed robbery suspect in February.
“Our officers, our deputies, our law enforcement community is hurting, again,” Knudson added.
“The loss of four officers within such a tight timeframe is, frankly, alarming,” Jim Palmer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association said Monday.
That all four officers were shot and killed is part of a trend, according to the WPPA.
In 2016, the group said 50% of officer-involved shootings involved subjects armed with guns. In 2021, that number jumped to nearly 70%.
Leising’s funeral will be Friday at Hudson High School. There will be a public visitation from 9 a.m. until noon, with a funeral with police memorial honors immediately after. There will also be a police procession following the services.
Leising was just 29 years old. She leaves behind a wife and a three-month-old son.
She was with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office for about a year, before that she was a deputy with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota.