How law enforcement handles high-profile cases

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With multiple high-profile cases in the news, a former local police officer explains how these cases are usually handled by law enforcement.

Siren on police car flashing, close-up

"Law enforcement needs to be prepared for these types of things happening. But seeing what Barron County went through and then the assisting agencies, cause it wasn't just Barron County but also other agencies involved as well from the federal and state levels," said CVTC Criminal Justice Instructor Robert Teuteberg.

A year removed from the start of the search for Jayme Closs, Teuteberg says a lot can be learned from how the case unfolded.

"Learning what they did, having that tight relationship between law enforcement agencies and then sharing that communication. Those are really key components to being successful in these types of situations," he said.

The Closs case immediately drew national attention.

Teuteberg says constant communication with the public kept hope alive that Jayme would return home.

"The days of no comment are over, the days of law enforcement circling the wagons and pushing everyone else away and saying we got this, are over. This is a community event, it's community involvement and it's with the help of the community that these type of major investigations like this are often solved," he said.

Another investigation making headlines this week is the trial of Ezra McCandless.

She's accused of stabbing 24-year-old Alexander Woodworth to death.

"They're going to want, obviously, physical evidence. But you've got to satisfy every legal element of that crime. Now first-degree intentional has two primary elements, the intent to take a human life and then the fact that your actions did result in the taking of a human life," explained Teuteberg.

On Monday, jury selection began for what's being scheduled as a three week trial.

Picking the jury of McCandless' peers is, according to Teuteberg, a critical part of the process.

"Each side is looking to put people in the jury box who they think would have similar insight into the narrative behind the investigation. If the defense thinks they can get someone to believe the narrative they put forth, they will be swayed to choose that person. If the prosecution thinks that this person would be more apt to believe what they have, they'll choose that type of person," said Teuteberg.

He points out another aspect of these high-profile cases is the toll they take on law enforcement officials that work on them.

Teuteberg says only recently local agencies have started offering mental and emotional support for officers and investigators when working on cases like this.

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