March 22, Everest Metro Police share their new normal

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WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) -- Two years after a gunman opened fire in the Weston area killing four people, many people are still trying to heal.

Friday people remembered the lives of Karen Barclay and Dianne Look of Marathon Savings Bank, attorney Sara Quirt-Sann a guardian ad litem at Tlusty, Kennedy, and Dirks, and Everest Metro Police Det. Jason Weiland.

"After year one, you expect to have a grieving process in place. Some people suffer in silence, some people suffer very openly, and some people carry scar tissues for forever," said Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks.

Parks has lost three of his law enforcement colleagues in the line of duty.

"In May of 1994, Deputy Jeffrey Sheets was killed in the line of duty out in the Town of Ringle and I was at that scene, in fact I worked that investigation," Parks said. "And then in 2012 we lost Jamison Kampmeyer. He was a Colby volunteer firefighter, but he also was on Marathon County Sheriff’s Office, so that’s number two. And then, just March 22, 2017, we lose Everest Metro’s Detective Jason Weiland and Jason actually started with us in the corrections division and worked for me when he worked at the Special Investigations Unit, so a huge loss."

His unfortunate expertise gives him the experience of the second year, an anniversary he says is the hardest. He explains it is hard to know how to feel, but that is normal.

"I think what we have to remember is that we’re surrounded by individuals that care about us deeply and sometimes it’s difficult for us to open up to those particular persons, but we need to. Whether it’s a significant other at home, a partner here at work or even one of the outside resources that are available, don’t be afraid to use those. Because we’re human and we hurt just as much as anybody else," he said.

That new normal is still a work in progress at the Everest Metro Police Department.

"Normal is not normal anymore, if that makes sense," Chief Clay Schulz told NewsChannel 7 a year after the shootings. "It's ever changing. There's good days and bad days. And people are affected differently 00 and we have to respect that and move forward, and some are moving at different paces, but we'll get there."

This year, that is still the case.

"It's been two years, am I supposed to still be really bad? Am I supposed to be okay now? It's really, really hard to know exactly how you're supposed to feel when something like that happens," Everest Metro Police Officer Tom Jourdan told NewsChannel 7 this year during a ride along.

"I know there's a lot of people taking vacation on Friday," Schulz said. "I think they just want to deal with it in their own terms. We're not doing a big event here. We're going to have a little pizza and some lunch and people that want to stop in."

He explained there is a new everyday normal, and then March comes around.

"For me I don't want to go back to being in that spot and living through all of those things that happened," Schulz said. "But I think when the anniversary date comes up, that's when those start triggering of where I was at this time and what happened at this time and I think that's what's hard."

He said there are resources in place for his officers like counseling, but the realities of the job can make the healing process challenging.

"After the incident, it was a few weeks and we had a gun call and the guy was in the backyard, armed and a lot of the same officers that were there that day were at this call," he recalled. "You do the things to mitigate risks based on your training, but we all understand that that's what can happen."

He is concerned about his officers' mental health, but he said he thinks the stigma around that struggle of healing in this department is gone.

"I think you have to get through the anger and, you know the survivor's guilt in some cases before you can get to the grief part and that takes a long time, that process and there's no script for you should be here at this point," he explained. "And I think some people I know are upset that they're not past a certain part, you know. That it's still triggering certain emotions and they don't want it to anymore."

"On some days you come to the PD and see all of the things that are in the display case for him and stuff and some days you sit and look at it and smile and remember and some days you get emotional and get sad and you never know exactly how you're supposed to feel," said Jourdan.

Schulz said their tight-knit department has allowed for officers to have conversation about how they are feeling, remembering Weiland, and checking in on each other's well-being.

"It's amazing how for me personally, how many times Jason comes into the conversation because you're like, yeah we were talking about this and I was on this call and I think Jason was on that call with me and I remember, you know, him doing something goofy and then we laugh and they'll be like that sounds like Jason," Schulz said. "So I think those are good things because that's really what you want to remember. You don't want to remember that incident, that day, that time. You want to remember him and the good he brought and the humor he brought and how great of a cop he was."

After two years, Schulz said he does see healing.

"That's, I think, a sign that we're doing a little bit better is laughing and that happens here all of the time," he said.