Armored vehicles and 24 officers sent to collect money from elderly man
Local officials in Stettin, a small town of less than 3,000 in Wisconsin, sent 2 dozen armed police officers and military-grade armored vehicles to the home of 75-year-old Roger Hoeppner earlier this month in order to collect $86,000 in debt from the elderly man, a move which served to renew questions about the militarization of police in the United States.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Hoeppner has been in a dispute with local officials for years concerning alleged ordinance violations on 20 acres of property that Hoeppner owned near Wausau. In a press conference on Monday, the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department’s Chab Billeb tried to use this history to justify the use of armed officers and armored vehicles.
“This has been a long outstanding problem between the resident and the township and it’s been contentious. We’ve had deputies go to town board meetings to do security. We know we’ve had our staff involved to mediate this over a number of months trying to calm the situation and it never got any better,” Billeb said.
Hoeppner’s attorney, Ryan Lister, believes that the show of force was completely unnecessary, saying: “Rather than provide Mr. Hoeppner or his counsel notice, and attempt to collect without spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on the military-style maneuvers, the town unilaterally decided to enforce its civil judgment,” according to The Washington Times.