Community rallies to offer safe, successful Halloween event

Baggy of meth found in child’s candy Sunday

A safe Trick–or-Treat event on was held Tuesday on the Keshena campus of the College of Menominee Nation. The event was organized and sponsored by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, College of Menominee Nation, Menominee Tribal Enterprise and Menominee Casino Resort in order to restore the fun-filled innocence of Halloween for our Community children and families.

Hundreds of families and kids attended a safe Trick–or-Treat event Tuesday on the Keshena campus of the College of Menominee Nation in response to a baggy of meth found in a trick-or-treat bag Sunday.

The discovery of a package of meth mixed in with Halloween candy after a group of children went trick-or-treating on the Menominee reservation Sunday has outraged the community, but has also spurred community-wide efforts to reassure families and their children of their safety, according to officials.

“People are pretty upset,” said Menominee Tribal Police Chief Mark Waukau. “They see a threat to our children and they’re outraged.”

According to Waukau, the meth turned up in one of the bags from a group of children, 4-7 years old, who were trick-or-treating in the Keshena area Sunday.

The candy was later examined by a parent, but the contents of the bags were mixed together, so it isn’t clear which child received what was described as a small yellow Ziploc type baggy containing crystalline powder.

The suspicious item was reported to police on Monday and the powder tested positive for methamphetamine.

Waukau said police have not yet narrowed down where the meth might have come from and the matter is still under investigation.

He also did not want to speculate on whether the meth was deliberately placed in the bag or was dropped in accidentally.

“We don’t know,” he said.

Waukau said it’s standard practice for children to be accompanied by parents or other adults while trick-or-treating, as this group of children was, but they don’t always go up to the door with them.

No other instances of drugs being found in Sunday’s Halloween candy have been reported and, Waukau said, there have not been similar reports in the past.

“We’ve never had a thing like this,” he said.

Parents were advised to check their children’s Halloween candy for any suspicious items and then discard all trick-or-treat candy they collected.

Community organizations banded together quickly after the news to organize a Safe Trick-Or-Treat event held Tuesday at the College of Menominee Nation.

The event was sponsored by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, College of Menominee Nation, Menominee Tribal Enterprise and Menominee Casino Resort “in order to restore the fun-filled innocence of Halloween for our community children and families,” said Melissa Cook, intergovernmental affairs manager for the tribe.

Earlier Tuesday, tribal police officers took bags of candy to Keshena Primary School.

“We wanted to assure them that we’re there for them,” Waukau said. “We want to assure them they’re protected.”

He said the officers were well-received and exchanged high-fives with the students.

Also on Tuesday, Waukau said, children from the head start programs visited the police department where they also received candy.

Menominee Tribal Chairman Gary Besaw said the community had been dismayed by the meth incident.

“This is not the face of Menominee,” Besaw said. “We take care in protecting our children, our elders and our families. These lessons have been passed down from generation to generation. I commend our tribal departments and chartered organizations for their collaborative effort to come together to restore the sense of innocence and safety for our children.”

Waukau said the incident has alerted other communities to be aware and parents to be watchful.

“Be careful out there,” he said.

Shawano area law enforcement officials reacted to the incident with similar words of warning, as well as some outrage of their own.

“I was shocked like everyone else,” said Shawano County Sheriff Adam Bieber. “While parents are already worried about losing a kid to kidnapping, or getting run over crossing streets, there is the added stress of wondering if the candy people are handing out is safe.”

Bieber said parents need to be concerned and vigilant, and need to talk to their children about safety and take precautions in all situations, not just while trick-or-treating.

“Parents and children need to talk about if they become separated, there should be a plan in place, like where to meet, who to seek out for help, write down contact numbers on the child. Children should know their address and other important info,” he said.

“While we live in a great community, we definitely have our issues and they should not be ignored,” Bieber said. “Crime, drug addictions, and unfortunate circumstances happen everywhere. I believe that, in order to maintain a free society that is safe for our most vulnerable citizens, people need to take personal safety into their own hands.”

He said that includes knowing your surroundings, training yourself in self-defense, CPR, and other lifesaving classes.

Shawano Police Chief Dan Mauel expressed similar sentiments.

“I think parents, and for that matter, all of us, need to be completely aware of our surroundings at all times, not just on Halloween or other special occasions,” Mauel said.

The city, like many other Shawano County communities, had trick-or-treat hours Tuesday evening.

“Parents should walk with their children including to the residences. Do not allow their children to go into homes with people they do not know. Try and trick-or-treat in a neighborhood you are familiar with, and lastly, parents must check their children’s candy containers before they allow them to have it,” Mauel said.

“We live in a society today that has a severe drug problem. That problem reaches everywhere; even in the smallest communities,” he said. “If parents find something that looks suspicious, we encourage them to call the police. We will be happy to assist them with anything they need.”