La Crosse’s Assistant Police Chief and a Drug Suspect’s Father Find an Uncommon Bond

A case that put the spotlight on bail amounts

29-year-old Jesse Turnmire of Bangor is no stranger to local law enforcement.

He has had run-ins with police going back 10 years.
Charges of theft, drug use and drug dealing.

Most recently he was arrested on December 16th following a shooting at a south side home in La Crosse.

And then after his bail was reduced from 10-thousand-dollars down to 25-hundred, his bond was posted by the same man he would be rearrested with four hours later, charged with dealing drugs in a La Crosse Hotel parking lot.

Now, Turnmire’s father is speaking out about his son and one person he’s reaching out to, to try and warn other parents.

Paul Turnmire has been fixing other people’s cars and trucks for more than 25 years. It’s a skill he was hoping to share with his oldest son Jesse.

He describes Jesse as a “regular kid, just like everybody else.”
But at 29 years-old, Jesse Turnmire has been in trouble with the law for the past ten years in the La Crosse area.

His father’s dreams for him seem very far away, “I really want to help him but I get to a point where I don’t know what to do.”

His desperation led him to do something other parents might not even think of, he contacted La Crosse’s Assistant Police Chief.
Rob Abraham was surprised to get the call, “I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. I was a little nervous.”

Paul Turnmire decided to reach out to the one person who was very critical of the lower bail that allowed Jesse to get out of jail after being charged in a shooting at a house on La Crosse’s south side.
Abraham said, “Normally when you hear from parents regarding their children who get in trouble, it’s very defensive in nature. Blaming other people for those things and certainly this wasn’t the case. He was apologetic, but knew his son created his own problem.”

Surprisingly, these two men who know Jesse in very different ways are finding a lot of common ground.

“Hours prior to his release his bond was $10,000 so a judge made a determination.Forty-eight hours later Jesse and attorneys said, well I can afford 25-hundred dollars. My family can be the ones to post the bond and none of that was true”, according to Abraham.

It also caught Jesse’s father off guard, ” I wanted to talk to him and I told him I completely agree. I don’t understand that someone who is a repeat offender, how they could lower his bail like that and let him out?”

Abraham pointed out that the person who bailed Turnmire out wasn’t a family member at all, ” His partner in crime is the one who comes in and posts the bond and then low and behold they are allegedly selling drugs again!”

Turnmire was hoping his son would be stuck in jail long enough to seek help for his drug problem and maybe even find a job.

“Not that I want to see my son sit in jail. But obviously he needs some kind of help. Just opening the door and letting him go isn’t helping him any.”

La Crosse County’s Justice Support Services does offer dozens of programs for inmates who want the help.

Mandy Bisek is the Manager of Justice Support Services and emphasizes the programs are there but inmate participation is the key, “And the crux of everything is that person’s motivation and where they’re at and whether they are ready to move forward with this treatment. Spaces like Justice Support Services, the programming we offer in our jail. We are lucky to live in a a very resource rich community. It’s all available to our clients and we’re here to help, but we can’t do the work for them.”

Assistant Chief Abraham agrees with Bisek, “Accountability has to be in there somewhere. Where we look at the victims of the community equally or more importantly than the criminals. But it feels like the criminal is getting the bigger benefit of the doubt.”

And even though they seem to be in two totally different worlds, Abraham and Turnmire know their role as fathers is their most important job.

Abraham can sympathize with Turnmire’s situation, “Two dads who want to do everything possible for their kids but yet I can only imagine the level of frustration he has because he does want to help his son but his son doesn’t want to change.”

And Turnmire still wishes things could be different, ” If someone in one of those programs would have sat him down to see what he needs before it gets to here. Maybe he didn’t ever think it would get to here. but in the life he chose there’s no way it isn’t going to end up here.”

As far as Jesse Turnmire’s future goes, he now faces a federal firearms charge and has been moved to the Dane County Jail in Madison.

And according to District Attorney Tim Gruenke, If Turnmire gets a substantial sentence in federal prison on the firearms charge, the La Crosse charge would be dropped.
However, all of his other drug charges in La Crosse would still be pursued.

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