SHAWANO COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – Shawano County Sheriff Adam Bieber joined Local 5 to talk about several topics including how the Sheriff’s Office has handled the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, how to protect local kids from using drugs, and some safety tips for drivers in the area.

Recently vaccine and mask mandates have been a source of controversy. With many health officials pushing for mask mandates and more and more employers requiring vaccinations amongst their employees, Shawano County Sheriff’s Office is saying ‘no’ to mandates and ‘yes’ to freedom of choice.

“We’re kinda different over here…We really encourage education and we also encourage good hygiene. But the biggest part that’s different in Shawano County is your choice. We promote and encourage choice. If you want to get a vaccine, get a vaccine. If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask,” shared Bieber.

Supporting the freedom of choice doesn’t mean Sheriff Bieber doesn’t value safety. He tells Local 5 that the Sheriff’s Office makes sure to follow safety protocols, maintain good hygiene, and promote education on COVID-19 to ensure his deputies and county officials do their best at staying safe and remaining healthy to continue serving the community.

And when it comes to serving the community, Sheriff Bieber says they are working hard to protect some of their most vulnerable populations against drug use. According to the Sheriff, the use of drugs amongst kids in teens in the county has always been an issue.

“It affects our whole society and is a problem and it’s something that we need to get a handle on,” says Bieber adding that they have seen an increase in the use of Meth amongst kids and teens.

Sheriff Bieber says one way to help keep kids off of drugs is by keeping them busy. “You gotta keep them busy, get them into sports, or get them into after-school faith-based youth programs. If they’re not into sports, get them into work. They gotta have some positive hobbies,” said Bieber.

Sheriff Bieber adds that another important step in helping kids stay clean is by parents and/or caregivers taking the initiative to have these difficult conversations with their kids, “Everyone knows someone that has struggled with addiction and so tell those stories to those kids… Have those difficult conversations,” said Bieber.

Bieber notes that the Shawano County Sheriff’s Office has recently released an information program for kids, parents, teens, or teachers to read and learn about the dangers of drug use to hopefully help kickstart those conversations for the safety of the youth.

Drugs aren’t the only dangers posed to the community. Traffic accidents happen every day in the Shawano County community which is why Sheriff Bieber chose to end the community update by advising all travelers to slow down and put both hands on the wheel, especially in construction zones, “Slow down for those construction workers. It’s dangerous out there for them. It’s dangerous for our folks driving,” shared Bieber.