Sauk County sheriff's candidates weigh in – WiscNews

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Name: Becky Blackman
Age: 45
Residence: Baraboo
Occupation: Clerk
Why do you feel you are the best choice for the position?
“I am the best candidate for sheriff because I have a proven record of analyzing problems from an ‘outside the box’ strategy with effective results. I am familiar with the previous and current departmental internal operations. I’m fully vested in working with all community stakeholders with a proactive and solution based approach to obstacles facing the future of the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office and a continued focus on community safety.
If elected Nov. 8, I would be the first professional administrator running our sheriff’s department. Ensuring that all operations are running smoothly, efficiently and effectively, along with updating internal operations to compliment technological advances, I would add yearly cultural diversity training to increase positive interaction with our community members during lines of communication with all facets of employees (office staff, dispatch, detectives, deputies and administration). I will update the community with informational videos on YouTube highlighting changes within the department and explaining our current operations.
We need to stabilize the department workforce by offering increased pay and benefits to become competitive with the private market (recruit and retain staff). Provide additional compensation for bilingual employees. Ensure employees are receiving proper supportive training and resources for success within their positions. I would add a few minutes of a weekly interval mental health application engagement for employees (which would be mandatory) and for those who are incarcerated within our security division (which would be voluntary) to provide a healthy outlet for coping within a stressful environment.
I would increase cross-functional collaboration with all functional lines of operation. I.e., one division will alleviate job operation(s) to lessen the workload of another division within the department. Each time a computer update occurs, management would reassess the job duties of their employees to maintain a full time workload. We need to consistently review, analyze and assess our performance internally and externally. What can we do better? Could we do this differently? Are we hitting the problem areas? Approaching problems with a status quo mentality is dead as an organization must change it’s approaches for it to grow.
I have prepared for this job by investing 19 years within the Sauk County Sheriff Security Division. I completed a bachelor’s degree from UW-Green Bay with a double major in urban studies and in public administration, with an emphasis in public and nonprofit management. Recently, I completed a medicolegal death investigator course from Death Investigation Academy in Cuba, Missouri.
Although personal family dynamics forced me to make a decision between career advancement or remaining in my position to benefit my family, in regard to advancing on to patrol over 10 years ago, I do not regret the decision to remain within my position because I had a set schedule during the day shift which enabled me to raise my daughters as a single parent (with no immediate family to assist with childcare within the state of Wisconsin). I have entered this race as an Independent candidate to represent the entire county and am not being influenced by political party agendas.
In closing, running against my boss was not an easy decision to make. I personally like and respect Chip within the positions which he has held. I just have a different perspective and would take different approaches to address the current challenges facing our department. The community members are blessed by having three candidates who are passionate about our department and of whom are on the ballot to choose.
I would be honored to have your vote.”
Name: Paul Hefty
Age: 67
Residence: Prairie du Sac
Occupation: Retired
Why do you feel you are the best choice for the position?
“It’s time for a change. New leadership to address the department’s problems, not the status quo. To teach children respect, show children respect. Stop the bullying of kids and adults. You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips. BE KIND.
I care about our future. For 18 years, my parents owned and operated Hefty’s Skillet Creek Farm Campgrounds with the Burger and Bake House Restaurant. I was involved in all areas of the business. During that time, I was exposed to a number of people in different ways. Not only have I had contact with customers but I have also dealt with other business people. This experience provided me with a unique perspective in how to work with people aside from a law enforcement environment.
The summer before I started at UW, I rode along with some Sauk County Sheriff’s Office deputies. The more time I was with the deputies, the more my interest in law enforcement grew. It should be noted that at that time the sheriff’s office was also the area ambulance service. I really enjoyed being able to help others.
While I was working on my Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, I started to work for several sheriff’s offices as an undercover investigator. I also was able to complete a Drug Enforcement Administration school on narcotics and dangerous drugs.
One of my instructors in Madison was Police Chief David Couper. He brought community oriented policing techniques to Madison. I would like to bring these to all of Sauk County. There is a need for community policing. Addressing needs in our schools and community is fundamental, as is department morale. Start with the field officers. Give the citizens a chance to get to know officers, build trust. Community oriented policing and problem-solving techniques can help officers pull in resources and ultimately reduce repeat calls for service. Officers who engage in this style of policing experience less frustration and improved job satisfaction. If properly implemented, community satisfaction and confidence will increase. There is a need to treat people fairly in the entire operation of the department, whether they are an employee, inmate or citizen.
I am committed to improving school liaison officer programs and establishing community education programs on topics like drug abuse, internet safety, driver education, domestic abuse and financial crimes.
Sauk County needs a sheriff with street smarts and hands-on experience; indispensable tools for a crime fighter. The sheriff’s duties are complex, requiring real experiences in law enforcement. I have the knowledge of how to get the job done and done right.
My experience includes roles as: senior detective, senior member of the Drug Task Force, FBI special deputy, in-service instructor, critical incident hostage negotiator team leader and instructor, Emergency Response Team member, school liaison officer, DARE officer, founding member of the rescue dive team, advanced rescue diver, bailiff, dispatcher and jailer.
Having earned the respect of fellow officers, elected into several leadership roles (director and vice president of Sauk County Deputy Sheriff’s Association), I acknowledge the importance of teamwork, planning, setting goals and reaching those goals. To be a leader of change—not its victim—a person needs to lead and inspire, not manage and control. Focus on what employees are good at to get more/better ideas with a team effort.
“Do what you can, with what you have where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
Times are tough. Law enforcement is not in the business of making a profit. It is in the service industry to provide to the public with frugal and thoughtful spending. The sheriff and county board have a fiduciary duty to the citizens of Sauk County. End the accounting gimmicks and schemes to bring sound budgeting practices to Sauk County.
Open the books; don’t mislead the public and board members with fabricated figures. The current and past administrations have spent more locking people up instead of preventing crime. Find cost effective ways to adequately and humanely house individuals with mental illness, work with all partners to combat the ever-increasing, deadly opiate epidemic.
The best way to predict the future is to help create it. Help be a part of it. To be a part of creating your future and the future of your children and grandchildren. Elect Paul Hefty sheriff and put his higher education (only candidate with) UW Bachelor of Science—Criminal Justice and 30+ Years of Service: working the streets to work for you and your family’s future.
I would like to thank you for your words of kindness and encouragement as I travel my campaign trail. I entered this campaign to make sure that on Nov. 8 you have a choice in the way your sheriff’s department is operated. Running on a frugal budget, no donations, no fundraisers. I walk the streets, door to door, in a grassroots effort to meet the public, as I have done in serving the public for over 30 years (24+ years as a Sauk County sheriff’s detective). There is too much money in politics. All I am asking for is your vote on Nov. 8. Make an informed decision. I’m the one with a HEFTY resume.”
Name: Chip Meister
Age: 59
Residence: Reedsburg
Occupation: Sauk County sheriff
Why do you feel you are the best choice for the position?
“I am the only candidate that is a current Wisconsin certified law enforcement officer. I have served the people of Sauk County for the past 38 years; 25 of those were in a supervisory or command role with the sheriff’s office, and the past 11 years as sheriff. I have greatly appreciated serving the citizens of this county. Today we have many challenges in law enforcement and I want to continue the experienced leadership as sheriff. I have the knowledge, experience and a proven track record to continue to lead the sheriff’s office.
During my last 11 years as sheriff, we have accomplished so much and I look forward to continuing to make this county a safe community to live, work and visit.
We have updated our department computer system, and currently are part of a countywide system where all police departments, EMS/fire, along with the sheriff’s department, use the same system on a countywide basis. We can track our squads and send the closest car to an emergency, regardless if it is a county, city or state squad. We teamed up with various partners to provide programs for the inmates to help them stay out of jail, such as parenting classes, GED class and anger management classes, as well as a re-entry program. We have updated our 911 system to even allow texting to 911, as well as showing where the call came from geographically. We have partnered with local schools where deputies and myself read to young children and share stories about our job responsibilities. We have partnered with People Helping People to teach inmates skills so they can work in the trades field and become a part of their community upon release.
In the near future we will be replacing all of our squad radios and portable radios within the department. After that is complete, we will be installing video cameras in our squad cars and assigning body cameras to our patrol and jail deputies.
I respectfully ask for your vote Nov. 8.”
Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.
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