In August, there will be a new sheriff in town, or, more accurately, Grant County.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Nathan Dreckman was chosen by Gov. Scott Walker to replace retiring Sheriff Keith Govier.
“Given the amount of community support Nathan received, coupled with his impressive service and experience, I think he will be able to successfully lead and manage the Grant County Sheriff’s Department,” said Walker in a news release.
Govier’s last day after 15 years as sheriff is Aug. 13. Dreckman, a Republican, will serve the rest of Govier’s unexpired term, through the 2014 election.
Dreckman was Govier’s first choice to succeed him.
“Nate sets himself apart as the one deputy that I have the confidence in to win an election,” said Govier in a recommendation letter. “He has the moral and ethical leadership qualities that everyone wants to see in their local sheriff.”
Dreckman interviewed with a panel, and then interviewed with Walker when he was one of the finalists, accompanied by his wife.
“He was very familiar with this area; he bow-hunts near Bagley,” said Dreckman.
The Dreckmans live in Lancaster and have two children.
Dreckman has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 17 years. He is one of the department’s four patrol sergeants.
“I always wanted to be a police officer, and that came from one of those career things in high school,” said Dreckman, a Potosi High School and UW–Platteville graduate. “Actually it matched to an FBI agent, but this was the next best thing. I’ve been always seeking to challenge myself, to better myself, wanting to see where I could serve the public the best.”
Dreckman said he wouldn’t miss being out on patrol, “because it’s the next natural progression in my career. The only thing I’ll miss now is being out in the county, and I’ll still be able to do that.”
Dreckman is starting as sheriff just as Grant County’s 2013 budget process is beginning. He is replacing a sheriff who has had a recently rocky relationship with the county board and its Law Enforcement Committee.
“To me, I’m a person with an open mind, so I listen to different things, but I want to get the job done,” he said. “To me, the primary goal is how to best serve the citizens of Grant County; that’s my primary goal.”
Dreckman also will be part of the hiring process for his old position as well as three vacant deputy positions.
Dreckman’s priorities are “getting out into the community more,” as he said Govier did to hear “suggestions on how to better serve their home and their business.”
Dreckman also is interested in “different ways to get information out into the public.” He is exploring using Nixle, a website that sends email and text alerts now being used by the Platteville Police Department. He started the department’s Facebook page.
Law enforcement in Grant County is an interesting challenge given the county’s physical size.
“Our county’s huge,” said Dreckman. “We have a lot of ground to cover, and at the same time we’re like 0.9 officers per 1,000 [population]; we’re well below the state average.”
The sheriff’s department has 16 deputies, four patrol sergeants, one detective sergeant, one jail sergeant, a captain and a chief deputy. In addition to the 24 sworn officers, the department has nearly 20 full-time employees and more part-time employees.
“We have a super chief deputy and captain and on down,” said Dreckman. “We’re working on what Keith has already been doing these years.”
Most crimes in Grant County are property crimes, including burglaries and, most recently, metal thefts.
“The night shift guys have taken proactive steps — they’re out checking doors, and that hasn’t been done in the past,” said Dreckman.
Dreckman was one of the first Grant County officers to get trained in crystal methamphetamine and “the dangers of meth waste” during its influx into Grant County in the late 1990s.
Today, he said, “Heroin’s definitely made a resurgence, more due to price; it’s really cheap,” sourced from Madison and La Crosse. Meth “kind of goes up and down a little bit.”
Grant County got statewide publicity for the marijuana raid in Platteville May 2. But, said Dreckman, “We don’t actively go out and look for people possessing marijuana for their own use. Charges are typically byproducts of other investigations.”
Dreckman has been a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer since 2002, and taught the DARE course full-time for three years.
“To me, going out into schools and making contact with teachers and staff, I’m very proud of that,” he said. “You’re reinforcing messages that you hope are taught at home — how to make healthy choices. These kids remember you … they’re making that positive contact with law enforcement to set up things for the future.”
Stopping drunk driving continues to be a priority.
“We are still a society where, I don’t want to say it’s accepted, but until our society recognizes we need to be more serious about this … we are one of a couple of states where the first offense is still a fine,” he said. “From our standpoint in Grant County, we take a strong stance … our officers on patrol are actively looking for impaired drivers, and as a result of that our fatality rate has dropped in the past couple of years.”
Dreckman attended the FBI National Academy from January through March 2011. He called it “a very unique experience. Educational-wise, I earned 17 college credits out there, 12 of them graduate. I really pushed myself to the max out there. Networking-wise, it was even better; you’re connected to 30,000 people out there.”
Dreckman’s personal goal is to finish his master’s degree, along with “mentoring people for different roles that are going to come open.
“I plan to stay here as long as the voters elect me to this position. Do I envision retiring from here? I don’t know. I don’t know what doors will be open for me.”
SHERIFFS OF GRANT COUNTY
1835–36: James H.D. Street.
1837–38: Peter Coyle.
1839–42: Harvey Pepper.
1843–44: Enos S. Raker.
1845–46: N.W. Kendall.
1847–50: Matthew Wood.
1851–52: George R. Stuntz.
1853–54: William McGonigal.
1855–56: Lorenzo Preston.
1857–58: Dexter Ward.
1859–60: William H. Foster.
1861–62: Johnathan B. Moore.
1863–64: N. Goodenough.
1865–66: William H. Clise.
1865–66: J.P. Cox.
1869–70: William H. Clise.
1871–72: William E. Sloat.
1873–74: Terrence Carrier.
1875–76: J.B. McCoy.
1877–78: Matt H. Birchard.
1879–80: Gay D. Streeter.
1879–80: John Cover.
1881–82: Jno F. Lane
1883–84: J.L. Rewey.
1885–86: Ora Richards.
1887–88: John Dolphin.
1889–90: F.D. Thompson.
1891–92: M.V. Burris.
1893–94: Jacob Miller.
1895–96: William J. Dyer.
1897–98: Horace Hymer.
1899–1900: John Faecett.
1901–02: Charles F. Dickenson.
1903–04: John W. Watson.
1905–06: Robert Glenn.
1907–08: Albert Budworth.
1909–10: James M. Harchroad.
1911–12, 1917–18: Wesley C. Hymer.
1913–14: William B. Dyer.
1915–16, 1919–20: Frank Heil.
1921–22: R.P. Holmes.
1923–24: Joseph Edge.
1925–26: Harry Livingston.
1927–28: Burt L. Morse.
1929–32, 1941–42: Joe R. Greer.
1939–40: Harry E. Greer.
1943–46, 1951–54: Aloys M. Klaas.
1947–50: Melvin Gillen.
1955–58: Robert Seemeyer.
1959–60: Naomi Seemeyer.
1961–64: J. Dallas Wepking.
1965–68: Roy Graney.
1969–74: John Heer.
1975–80: Percy Stich.
1981–96: Herbert Hottenstein.
1997–2012: Keith D. Govier.