I grew up on a family farm outside of Potosi. I graduated from Potosi High School and joined the Army. I earned a number of college credits through Central Texas College, while in the Army.
I still live outside of Potosi with my wife, Amy. She is a Pharmacy Technician at Unity Point Health- Finley Hospital. We have two sons. Daniel, who graduated form Loras College this year with a degree in Business Management, he is employed at Sedgwick CMS. Eric, who is attending UW-Platteville pursuing a degree in Political Science. He is serving in the Army Reserve with the 469th Engineering Co.
I began my Law Enforcement career in the Army, serving in the Military Police Corps. I began working for the Grant County Sheriff Department in 1985 as a member of the Sheriff patrol. During this time I earned my Law Enforcement certification through SW-Tech. In 1987 I worked for UW-Platteville Campus Police until hired as a Corrections Officer for Grant County. In 1988 I began my duties as a Deputy. I was promoted to Sergeant in 1996 remaining in that position until becoming Jail Administrator a little over five years ago.
Accolades & Accomplishments
• Voted officer of the year in 1994
• Named Grant County Herald Independent Best of the Best Law Enforcement officer.
• Voted Employee of the Year in 2010 However, it was decided by upper management that this award should no longer go to a supervisor
• Field Training Deputy
• Field Training Coordinator
• Firearms Instructor, Lead Department Instructor
• Certified Scuba Diver and Supervisor of the Grant County Dive, Search and Recovery team
• Department Terrorist Liaison Officer
• Attended Advanced Traffic Crash Investigation Schools
• Graduate of IACP Leadership in Police Organizations
• Graduate of SW Wisconsin Community Leadership Alliance
What made me get into law enforcement?
As I went through High School I gave a career in Law Enforcement serious thought. Being a person who likes to work outside and get my hands dirty I was having a hard time deciding between a career in Law Enforcement of something in the Agriculture field. I joined the Military Police Corps to hopefully point me in the right direction. As I worked on the Sheriff Patrol and as a part time Corrections officer I also worked for farmers and in the construction field. Through these years, having gained insight into the various fields I decided Law Enforcement was the correct path for me.
Why are you running for sheriff?
In 2010 as I watched the election for this position unfold I began giving a lot of thought to running this year. At that time it appeared this would be an open seat. I felt I was qualified and knew I could bring real leadership to the Department.
After Sheriff Govier retired I interviewed for the appointment. It was obvious to me that the selection was pre determined, Sheriff Govier and Nate confirmed that to me in conversations that I had with each prior to the retirement being announced. After the process I knew that I had to run. This is an elected position and the voters of Grant County deserve to vote for their Sheriff.
I am the best person for this job. I have a plan to address problems that we have. I recognize that we need changes in some areas. I’m willing to make those changes. We have a culture inside the Department that seems to put the wants of employees in front of the needs of the Department. That’s why we have a problem with scheduling and overtime. That’s why we have internal turmoil.
I will look to the future and begin the conversation of building needs. I will evaluate long standing programs and practices. I will always remember that I am managing the tax dollars of hard working citizens.
The law enforcement center appears to be at a crossroads, with several ideas floated in the past few years on what to do, from renovation, addition, etc. The next few questions will be about specifics about this issue.
What are your thoughts on the current state and space constraints of the jail and huber dorm? What do you think makes the most sense for the future of the facility?
I will break this into three areas: Huber Dorm, Housing Units and Intake Area.
Huber Dorm: As long as I’ve been the Jail Administrator we have not run out of space in the Huber Dorm. There are 18 beds and we have the option of electronic monitoring. The dorm does not need to house more. We do have concerns with the age of the dorm. It is part of the original jail built in the 1960’s. One of the three showers does not work. The showers are part of the dayroom area where inmates eat and watch TV. In more modern facilities inmates will leave their work clothes in a locker, go through a shower and receive a jail uniform away from their work clothes. This process restricts the opportunity to introduce contraband into the facility. This is not an option for us. Remodeling of this area should be included in a larger plan.
Housing Units: We have nine housing units in the main area of the jail. Two are dorm style the other seven have cells and a dayroom. Five of the units have double bunked cells. The mechanical locks and food passes have been recently upgraded. Although newer jails have gone to direct supervision pod style housing I feel there is life left in these housing units. Our average daily population is holding in the low to mid fifties. Although we do not like mixing general population inmates with Huber inmates that option is available when we get near capacity. We can not see the future. If you look at the demographics of Grant County our population is not increasing. Maybe in 10 years that will reverse. We have that much time with our current housing units to maybe get a better picture of our future needs.
Intake Area: We stand an annual state inspection. I hear the same things every year, you need storage space, you need to get the medication cart out of the hallway, you need a medical services room, you need Administrative Confinement cells. I agree with every one of these concerns. Our intake area has been outgrown. Changes in “Best Correctional Practices” have left us far behind and open to litigation. This area has to be a top priority for safety issues, work environment issues, and to improve the overall operation of the jail. Medical staff do evaluations and consultations in the hallway or holding cells. Mattresses are stored in the garage, which does double duty for inmate intake and to work on and wash vehicles. Except for holding cells we have no place to house sick or disruptive inmates. The booking area is restrictive and full of items that are accessible to inmates. Items like the Intoximeter, Finger print machine, both have non secured monitors, or heavy binders and non secured chairs. All could be utilized as weapons. The jail office does triple duty as the corrections officers and nurses work stations, camera monitoring and door operation station, and for inmate file storage.
It will be a top priority of mine to move forward with a project to address these concerns. The intake area of the jail is a need that has to be addressed. This area needs to be designed to allow for future improvements so when the housing units do need to be replaced we can accomplish this by adding onto the intake area and not starting over. Keep in mind that the jail has housed inmates 24/7 since it opened and no major remodeling has been done.
What do you feel needs to be done about the dispatch center in the building? Any thoughts also on what role the Platteville municipal dispatch may play in covering county dispatch needs?
Since I’ve worked for the Sheriff Department the dispatch area has been remodeled twice to keep up with changing needs. There are two complete work stations and an area for a third dispatcher when needed. Any additional remodeling of this area would be a low priority as long as additional space or remodeling is not needed to keep up with ever changing technology. The Platteville Municipal dispatch center serves as a backup for the County 911 system and vice versa. The City of Platteville dispatches EMS, Fire and Police from their jurisdiction into the county when needed. They play a very important role in covering dispatch needs especially in the municipalities around Platteville that are covered by their services.
What about space for officers, detectives, training, evidence? What do you think of the current configuration and what is needed in the future?
Deputies do the majority of their work from the squad car. Time is needed in the office for preparing lengthy reports and filing paperwork. Outside of that the space they need is in the squad car. I would like to see workstations created that would give a deputy uninterrupted time to come into the office and complete these tasks. I would not be in favor of creating any type of area that would encourage a Deputy to be in the office.
Detectives have adequate space now. Each have an individual office, room for evidence processing and interview rooms. The biggest concern with this area relates back to the jail. The housing units are directly above Investigations. When flooding occurs often times there is damage to this area. I think that problem could be addressed in a jail remodel project.
Training, We have a large room in the basement that works well for classroom style training. The new facility at SW Tech fits ours and other agencies needs very well. There is a driving track, shooting ranges, gym space, and classrooms. It would be a waste to duplicate any of these facilities.
The evidence room is in a very secure location. Only the evidence custodian has access. Therefore I am not familiar enough to know what the present or future needs of this area are. If a storage or space problem arises I would first want to know how much of the stored evidence could be disposed of? Could it be managed better? If this wouldn’t alleviate the problem then it would be possible to relocate to a larger area that is currently being utilized for storage.
Any building project would have to be approved by the Grant County Board. How would you approach moving forward to have a successful project? How much of a priority would a jail/dispatch center project be during the next four years?
I think I’ve made it clear that a jail remodel project would be a top priority and is a goal for my first term. This would be a lengthy project that may take an entire four-year term to research, design, plan and get state approval, which is required. We need to move slow to ensure it is done right.
The county board is aware of these issues. Former board chairman Larry Wolf approached us with ideas and started the conversation. This was put on hold due to the courthouse project. Last spring the Law Enforcement Committee approved a committee be established to include members of the Sheriff Department and Social Services. This committee is to research building needs for both agencies. As of yet this has not been done.
The county board needs information to make an educated and responsible decision. It is the job of the Sheriff to make sure they get that information. If elected this committee will be established. I have already received verification from the State Jail Inspector that he will assist. We will gather the information and present it to the board. If I’ve done my job correctly the need for this project will be realized and we will proceed to the next step.
I am not an advocate of demolishing our current facility and starting over. However, like any building things wear out and need to be replaced or updated. The courthouse replaced a boiler and saw a substantial reduction in heating costs. We need to look at the same. We need to look at upgrades to make the building more efficient.
What are your thoughts on staffing/schedules in the department? What changes would you/have you made concerning this?
Over the past several years we have added a Sergeant position, two Deputy positions and a Corrections Officer position. Our current staffing levels fit our needs.
Dispatch and Jail work a 12-hour shift schedule which seems to work well for them. Deputies work a 10-hour shift schedule. This schedule allows for deputies to work with their assigned Sergeant, allows for a training day on Wednesday’s when every deputy is working, and allows for more weekends off than our previous 6 days on 3 days off schedule. The problem with this schedule is we have just enough deputies to keep coverage. When someone is on vacation or sick it creates shortages. These are opened up for overtime. There are several ways to approach this problem, a combination of them may work best. First is to create a permanent part-time position. We have utilized part time deputies in the past. They do not follow a set schedule and are able to be moved around to fill gaps. Second, we need to take deputies from the Wednesday schedule when possible and put them in open shifts on different days of the week. Third, two or four deputies are placed back on the six days on three days off schedule. Their schedule is known a month in advance However, start times could be changed to fill gaps in the schedule.
The goal is to allow deputies earned time off and to cut the out of control overtime.
What program would you look to implement or expand?
Currently we have programs and teams that address our needs. These include educational programs, Dive team, K-9, and CRT. We have attempted to start specialized programs in the past. Deputies attended schools for hostage negotiation. There was not an on going need for this and it fell apart. I see no reason to implement programs that do not address a specific need. Law Enforcement has to change to keep up with new challenges. When these challenges arise we will respond with additional projects or programs.
What do you think of the DARE and K9 programs?
DARE was started in the mid 90’s by Keith Govier. Platteville, Cuba City, Hazel Green, Lancaster, Fennimore and Boscobel all ran their own DARE programs. All have since gone away from it leaving only the Sheriff’s Department participating in the program. This raises questions to me: Why did they end it? What did they do to replace it? Have the school districts been asked their opinion on the program? Is it effective? Are there other programs available for officer/student interaction?
I am a supporter of officers in the schools and will continue with a program. I will evaluate the DARE program by asking these questions. If it’s found to be the best option it will continue.
The K-9 program is very effective for drug detection and officer safety. It is also a very positive tool for public relations. The dogs and handlers are very well received when they participate in events. I am in favor of continuing this program.
How much community outreach should the sheriff’s department be actively involved in? What are your thoughts about interaction, as well as transparency?
Part of our job is keeping the public informed on current crime trends and things to look for to better protect themselves, others and property. The information the public has equals the information we get back, enabling law enforcement to better respond.
The law enforcement logo is to Serve and Protect. This can not be accomplished without interaction with the public. Interacting with the public is why we’re here, this is our job.
We need to be transparent. Tax dollars pay for everything, this alone gives citizens the right to know what’s going on inside the department. I take issue with Nate’s claim of a high standard of transparency. I believe he grabbed a word that sounded good and ran with it for this campaign. I recently saw a news story where four women employees were filing a claim against the City of Madison for being passed over for promotions, that’s transparency. Is the public aware of any legal action against members of our department? There is and it’s currently in litigation.
What are your thoughts on contracting with municipalities for added patrols?
When services can be combined it usually equals a cost savings. We have an added benefit of providing better services to these communities than what they previously had, this equals less crime. Local issues can be addressed, preventing them from escalating into larger issues. We have a very community-oriented deputy assigned to this position. I see only positives from this program.
Any other issues you feel are important for the voters to know about yourself, or about items they should think about before voting, please share those at this time.....
The voters have to remember that this is an elected position. That right was taken away. A recent letter to the editor in a local paper indicated that Nate will be out of a job if he doesn’t win. The rules haven’t changed since 2012, he was aware of the possibilities prior to taking the appointment. If this factors into your decision then logically no elected official should ever have to stand re-election.
This has been an eye opening experience for me. No matter the outcome on Aug. 12 I’m glad I participated. I am appreciative and humbled by the support I’ve received.
---------------Responses to weekly 'Meet the Candidates' segments---------------
What is the mindset you want to convey to each deputy as they head out into the county?
The mindset I want deputies to have, that they are prepared, have the proper training, equipment, supervision and support from the public and administration.
That their job is to serve the people of Grant County. They should strive to be fair, impartial, courteous, and always ready and willing to lend a helping hand.
That a primary goal is safety for all citizens. They need to help the stranded or lost motorist, they need to protect the property of others, they need to bring calm and control to any situation.
And at the end of the day they need to look back at the shift and feel proud that they made a difference for someone.
What are your thoughts on the current state of crime in Grant County?
What is the most troubling issue you see, and what is one way to tackle it?
I could take the normal “politically safe” route on this question like, “Heroin is out of control” or “an on-going problem with alcohol related offenses” and “I’m educating the public and fighting it diligently”. But I won’t. Simple fact of the matter is, putting all the statistics aside, it’s the same as it’s always been. The vast majority of the people in Grant County are good, hard working, law abiding citizens but we still have people using drugs, domestic disputes, stealing, underage parties and driving intoxicated. The challenges of Law Enforcement don’t change. We are facing the same issues as other agencies throughout the country. There are new issues added to the list like cyber crimes, scams, identity theft etc. We will continue to adjust and train deputies to handle those situations.
I’m not going to play the numbers game as I’ve seen done in the past, like crime rates are down or a certain percentage of crimes being solved or how we rate statewide. Those numbers can be manipulated and constantly change.
The most troubling issue I see right now has more to do with our neighbors than anything within Grant County. It is no longer uncommon to open a newspaper or turn on the news and hear of violent crimes in Dubuque, Iowa or Madison. This has a high potential of spilling over into Grant County. Heroin is not produced within our borders but is accessible and being brought in from elsewhere. If you look at two recent violent crimes that happened here one perpetrator was from Dubuque and the other, although originally from Grant County was a long time resident of Madison.
We have to stay diligent and know what is going on around us, continue to work closely with other agencies and keep an open line of communication as to pass information.
Law Enforcement and the public have to stay informed, know what is going on around them and what to look for.
You and your opponent have worked a number of years together in the same department. What is one thing that you feel differentiates you from the other when it comes to law enforcement and what it takes to be sheriff? What is one thing you respect about your opponent?
What differentiates myself from Nate . My experience, not only in longevity but in things I have accomplished.
When I first started at the Sheriff Office there was no such thing as turning cases over to an investigator. When you were working and the call came in, you handled it from start to finish. I gained valuable experience early on handling more serious cases, making me a better deputy and leader. I have always been a hard worker. As a Sergeant I was respected for being in the field and handling calls, not supervising from the office. My belief is you were hired as a deputy first and took on the added responsibility of supervisor. Because of my work ethic I gained the respect and trust of everyone I supervised. I’m known for being fair, if there is a problem with an employee I take care of it, correcting if need be, always ending with a plan for improvement. Tackle the issue, solve it, learn from it, then move on.
I recognize problems and fix them. We had a problem with our training of hew hires. There was no systematic approach and little time was given before a new deputy was alone on patrol. I took on this problem creating the Field Training Program, this is still being utilized today. Now prior to a deputy going out alone they have been trained in policies, procedures, locations, and the expectations of their duties. I remained the Field Training Coordinator until taking over as Jail Administrator. I also created a similar program for the jail.
I recognized a problem with our use of force and firearms training. I became a Certified Firearms Instructor in 2002 and introduced our department to Scenario Based Training. I am the department’s Lead Firearms Instructor yet today.
After a very serious OMVI case I recognized we had a problem with the way we were handling blood evidence. I wrote the policy to correct it.
These are the traits I will bring to this position. Recognize a problem and fix it. I will evaluate all long standing procedures and programs. I will constantly ask the questions; Why are we doing what we are doing? How can we do it better?
I’m ready to tackle the tough issues facing us. My stance on reducing overtime, combining the Captain and Jail Administrator positions, taking away personal use of squad cars, and eliminating department issued smart phones are not popular with employees. What differentiates myself from Nate is that I put what’s best for the organization ahead of the wants of employees. I understand that there will be people that do not like all of the decisions and changes that I will make; to me that’s part of the job. Friendships stay at the front door. This works for citizen complaints as well. As I talked with people this summer I have heard how some are unsatisfied with responses after bringing a concern forward. How calls may not be returned, or an incident may not have been looked into or maybe the outcome of the complaint is not relayed back to the concerned citizen properly. If you bring a concern to me, no matter what the outcome maybe, you will get an answer.
I became a sergeant around the same time Nate was hired at the Sheriff Department. I’ve seen his entire law enforcement career. What I respect about my opponent is Nate became a DARE officer early on and ran that program successfully. He also agreed with the need for continuous training and became a vehicle contact instructor. He works with the colleges as an instructor and has followed the State initiatives on heroin education. I respect his on going efforts to educate and inform the public.