Nate Dreckman’s career goal has always been to be the sheriff of Grant County.
Dreckman reached his career goal sooner than he figured when he was named to succeed the retiring Sheriff Keith Govier in 2012.
Dreckman, who is running for a full four-year term in the Republican primary Aug. 12, describes his two years in office as “very challenging but overall a very rewarding experience.”
When people ask him what a sheriff does, he said, “First and foremost I’m in charge of the office of sheriff, and that includes the jail and dispatch. I stay involved with all aspects of the department, constantly reviewing policy, looking at training and what we can do.
“I’m just here to do my job, work hard for the citizens of Grant County, and serve as their sheriff.”
Dreckman was a patrol sergeant when Gov. Scott Walker chose him to finish Govier’s term.
“The difference is there is no insulation,” he said. “Being a first-line supervisor, you had the next step in the chain of command. Now the expectation is you’re the person in charge and responsible for everything that happens in that office.”
Dreckman’s most visible initiative has been heroin awareness presentations, which “really opened my eyes to the problem.” At one, he said that heroin was a bigger problem than methamphetamine in Grant County.
State laws in Iowa and Wisconsin to restrict purchases of pseudoephedrine “have cut it down quite a bit. … Meth will kill you — eventually, it’s going to catch up with you — but with heroin you risk death pretty much every time you use it.”
Alcohol is still used more often than drugs. Dreckman said the county is “very, very fortunate” to not have had a drunk-driving death the past few years. He points to his work with the Southern Grant County Road Crew, which provides rides to and from Grant County bars, saying, “Whatever we can do to support alternatives to drunk driving, I’m all for that.”
The Sheriff’s Office has contracts with Blue River, Woodman, Montfort, Bagley, Mount Hope, Livingston and Jamestown to provide police coverage.
“It’s shown in Montfort that petty crime is reduced just by having an officer a few hours a week,” he said.
Dreckman has also focused on professional development and “customer service,” saying, “85 percent of the people we deal with we usually deal with one time, maybe two. The goal is when you when you work with [victims] or you stop them for a violation, that experience doesn’t leave them with a bad taste for law enforcement.”
All Grant County squads have cameras, and Dreckman noted how many cellphones have cameras. “You can still operate with professionalism when you’re dealing with people,” he said.
One incident that occurred while Dreckman was the sheriff was a case of smuggling drugs into the jail. Tina Smith of Fennimore was charged with smuggling heroin into the jail where an inmate overdosed.
The incident “changed how things are done in there,” said Dreckman. “It let us retrain, reevaluate our policy procedures. You’re dealing with a jail population that is coming into our jail more and more with high-profile mental health issues.”
Dreckman said he has enjoyed the political aspect of his job “because I’m a very open-minded person and I’ll talk to anybody. I want this position, and I want to be engaged with people so if something happens we have a good relationship and we can work it out.”
When asked whether crime is increasing in Grant County, Dreckman said, “I don’t know if it is … we haven’t had a homicide in years” before the Merle Forbes death June 13, “and as far as violent crimes, I don’t think there’s more. We’ve had spikes in property crimes, but those were directly tied to the spike in heroin.”
If Dreckman wins Aug. 12, he will be unopposed on the ballot Nov. 4. His first goal for a four-year term is to “continue to look at facilities. I don’t know what that looks like, what it’s going to take, but we have to continue” to look at jail upgrades.
Dreckman also wants to implement a text-to-911 system, though “we’re probably three to five years or so away from that.” Before that, he is looking at implementing the Nixle text and email system to provide alerts for Grant County subscribers.
He is not interested in pursuing combining Grant County and Platteville dispatch, because of current call volumes “when the college is in session … and on top of that we back each other up.”
He is also not interested in scrambling the Sheriff’s Office radio, as some departments, including Platteville, do.
“There’s really no reason to go scramble for us,” he said. “Number one, it would be very costly for us. If we need something to go quiet, we have cellphones and we have data terminals in cars. And something I focus on is transparency.”
Dreckman’s department has to work with the Grant County district attorney’s office and the county’s two circuit judges. Law enforcement officers have indicated frustration with their cases sometimes not resulting in the sentences the officers believe are justified.
“Sure there’s some frustration, but we can only do our part, and our part is to respond to the call, investigate it correctly, take it to the DA’s office, and the judges decide what happens,” said Dreckman. “We have a specific job we need to do, and that’s enforcing the laws and investigating cases and taking it to the next person in line. We don’t create the laws; we just enforce what’s there.”
One thing Dreckman presumably will be doing if he wins Aug. 12 is working with his GOP opponent, Ed Breitsprecker, the department’s jail administrator.
“I have no problems whatsoever with it,” said Dreckman. “He’s got his opinions, and that’s fine; I don’t have a problem with it. He does a good job as the jail administrator.”
Sheriff’s candidate forum Aug. 4: Grant County Sheriff Republican candidates Nate Dreckman and Ed Breitsprecker will appear at a candidate forum in the Platteville Municipal Building second-floor council chambers Monday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.
The winner of the primary Aug. 12 will be unopposed on the ballot in the Nov. 4 general election for a four-year term.
The event is open to the public. Anyone who wishes to submit a question should email firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday at 8 a.m.