Team-first Mentality

I apologize to all of the local events that we were not able to attend to this weekend, but we were in Chicago for the Brotherhood for the Fallen’s Blue Tie Gala. It’s a great charity that deploys uniformed police officers to the funerals of murdered police officers throughout the country and provides an immediate cash donation to the officer’s family. The gala is our annual fundraiser and honors officers from around the country that have displayed heroism in face of adversity. The weekend was a good reminder of one of the reasons why I chose to run for Sheriff in Trempealeau County.

Lisa Tuozzolo, widow of murdered NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, spoke about the adversity that she encountered during and after her husband was murdered while attempting to arrest an MS-13 gang member. The fears of wondering who would help her raise her two small children (2 and 3 years old at the time) disappeared when she found the support from her police family in New York and across the country.

Her speech was followed by Former Navy Seal Jason Kuhn, who talked about the importance of adversity, preparation, mental toughness, leadership and having a team-first mentality. He discussed when faced with adversity, you have two choices. You can complain about your situation or you can embrace it and focus on what you can control. By embracing the situation, you insert thought and action to produce value. The best way not to fear something is to understand the value that it provides you in your life. Adversity creates the opportunity for reward and the greater the adversity, the greater the value you can gain from it. From my experience, I know this to be true because some of the worst and scariest times in my life have produced some of the greatest value.

I thought about everything we accomplished on our team working for the Chicago PD and how we didn’t work with each other but rather we worked FOR each other. We had a “team-first mentality” and Jason explained how working for each other builds trust, loyalty and love. Expecting perfection from yourself is easy when you trust the others around you. The actions you take are for THEM. You serve your teammates not because you expect it in return, but because it reduces anxiety and creates love and trust. It takes the focus off our sorry selves and places it where it belongs…on those around us.

We have some exceptionally talented people working for the Trempealeau County Sheriff’s Office and with the correct leadership and direction, morale will improve, efficiency will improve, and the mission will be accomplished.

If you ever have an opportunity to meet either Jason or Lisa, please take advantage of it.

Posted on 25 Sep 2018, 20:53 - Category: Management/Leadership

Political Culture within the Department

I have the support of many local law enforcement, police chiefs, sheriff’s deputies, retired deputies, business owners, and local politicians, whose names I will not disclose to prevent any division amongst the community. 

The fear of retaliation from those in power is real.  When my wife and I made the decision to run for Sheriff, I asked a relative about being involved in the campaign and his immediate response was glaring.  He said, “I have kids that are still in high school and I don’t want them to be targeted.”  I explained to him that in order to make changes we have to stand up for ourselves and that any form of retaliation will not be tolerated.

At the time of this conversation, I was a Sergeant for the Trempealeau County Sheriff’s Office…so was my opponent.  Within weeks of making this decision, I was unlawfully demoted.  I took a few days off to clear my head, get my thoughts together and file a grievance with Human Resources explaining the why the demotion was politically motivated.

During this time, the administration sent out a patrol request targeting the Hegg area.  FYI..we live in nearby Washington Coulee.  The retaliation is real.  The traffic complaint that was re-initiated was originally called in a year and a half earlier.  A few weeks back I was telling this story and found out that one of my neighbors received a speeding ticket during that time.  It is unfortunate that this retaliation cost a local tax payer over $175 because the department was being used for someone’s own personal and political gain.

There has been other personal retaliation against County employees as well.  I shouldn’t have to mention what happened to the Assistant District Attorney after testifying and telling the truth during a disciplinary hearing.  There was another deputy that testified that he respected my judgment and decision-making abilities…his probation was extended.  Meanwhile the part-time deputy-who was applying for the full-time position, lied on the stand and depicted me in a negative light-received a full-time deputy position. This same deputy has donated at least $197.00 to my opponent’s campaign.  Does that sound appropriate?

I was not raised to be a politician, nor have I ever wanted to be one.  I am not owned by anybody.  I am not indebted to anybody.  Nor do I make deals with people in order to get their support.

I want to send a huge thank you to all my supporters, friends, family, and those that I have not met.  We are in this together and please don’t get upset when they attempt to discredit my reputation and credibility.  It’s all they have left to campaign on.

Our kids aren’t old enough to truly understand what is going on and my wife is a true soldier. We love you guys and thank you again!

Posted on 20 Sep 2018, 20:13 - Category: Culture

Trust and Loyalty

Fun fact of the day…Did you know that while obtaining my undergrad at UW-Madison, I hadn’t thought about becoming a police officer until becoming an intern with the Dane County Gang and Narcotics Task Force?

Prior to that internship I was focused on furthering my psychology degree and working towards becoming a forensic psychologist.  During the internship, I was partnered with a K-9 handler from the Madison Police Department and assigned to help train the K-9 in tracking, building searches, bite work, and narcotics detection. A properly trained K-9 with the right handler can be one of the most amazing tools that a department can have.

In the meantime, I was also introduced to undercover work through surveillance and drug buys.  It opened my eyes to a world that I didn’t know existed.  I loved it and soon thereafter, I applied to the New York and Chicago Police Departments.  I decided on Chicago because it was closer to home, and I met some great people during the hiring process.

Trust me, I had no clue what I was getting myself into…but after being assigned to work on the west side, I learned very quickly what trust and loyalty truly meant.  To do our job, we needed to depend on each other.  It required trusting and understanding people that had different backgrounds, ideas and norms. They didn’t know what Spotted Cow or Cheese curds were…and they even cheered for the Bears! Lol But no matter how much you differed from or disliked a co-worker, you would ALWAYS respond when they needed help.  There was a sense of solidarity and pride that was truly admirable. 

An individual’s journey through life is something unique to each of us and that journey is what creates the person that you see in front of you.

Have a great weekend and make sure you stop at the Trempealeau Hotel on Sunday at 1 pm to help the Trempealeau Lions raise money for the flood victims in southwestern Wisconsin.

Posted on 07 Sep 2018, 10:01 - Category: Experience

Turnover in the Sheriff's Office

There are 54 positions listed on the department’s website including those in patrol, jail and dispatch. Did you know that in the last four years that almost 30 full-time employees have left the Sheriff’s Office? What does this cost the community?

From personal conversations, I know that many of these employees have resigned for a variety of reasons ranging from early retirement to being forced to resign. Many law enforcement agencies nationwide are having issues with turnover, but why is it happening here?

Some studies suggest that losing an employee can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 while other studies suggest that it can cost up to 60% of the employee’s salary. These costs can be broken down into visible calculated costs such as separation, recruitment, and selection costs. While other costs may not be as visible because they affect productivity, quality of service, morale, cohesion, and liability.

There are management strategies that can be implemented to reduce turnover but there needs to be a cohesive plan to address the problem. First, we need to determine why people are leaving. Objective and impartial exit interviews are imperative to understanding the issue. Many times, reasons for leaving range from issues regarding salaries, management, career development, or organizational values. Once this issue is identified, what changes can we implement?

There may be a simple problem that requires an easy fix or a deeper entrenched issue that requires a more comprehensive solution. Either way, there may be issues in management that need to be addressed, such as improper/overreaching internal investigations, lack of consistent expectations or consequences, improper use of public resources, improper hiring procedures or lacking an emphasis on employee growth. Often, these are the cause of many employee complaints and taxpayers are paying the price.

The values of the administration are often exemplified by its employees. If an employee sees an administration offering certain protections and disproportionate privileges to certain employees over others, the agency’s mission will be affected. Resulting in an administration that does not respect its own mission and values. You must lead from the top!

You can trust that in our administration, management will be held to a high standard, employees will have clear expectations, be given the tools to accomplish their goals and we will do everything in our power to keep qualified employees. We will have an administration that fairly addresses employee issues, promotes growth and the successfully addresses the mission.

Together we will make the difference!

Posted on 03 Sep 2018, 11:09 - Category: Management/Leadership

Think for the future and not the past

Think for the Future – Not the Past

The Deeren family has been in Galesville since 1871 and my grandparents Gordon and Alvina Deeren ran one of the many large farms in this county. My mother Sue (Gunderson) is from Ettrick and I have many relatives throughout Blair. I went to elementary school in Galesville and after moving to the Madison area, I kept contact with classmates and others in the county through curling. Let’s get this straight…this is where I am from.

After moving to Chicago, I began taking my vacations spring and fall to help on the family farm. If any of you know my grandfather Gordon, planting straight rows for him is not exactly vacation. During this time, he told a story about trying to get a loan for a 4-row planter. The dealership told him that he was crazy and wouldn’t agree to the deal because they didn’t think a 4-row planter was necessary in this part of the country. Needless to say, Gordon got a 4-row planter. Because of his vision, Gordon Deeren knew something that the dealership did not. His ability to adapt to adverse conditions, take calculated risks, and educate himself are traits that I truly admire.

Let’s relate this to the current meth and heroin epidemic in our county. Narcotics enforcement was given a national push in the 80’s and labeled “The War on Drugs.” This was an economic model focused on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Drug enforcement teams were formed and focused on asset forfeiture (confiscating money, cars, businesses and houses). We needed to hire more cops, hire more attorneys, and build more and bigger prisons. It created a new market and a sustainable maintenance program. The problem is that this model was built for urban areas and was never intended to eradicate or minimize the drug trade. It allowed the government to make deals with foreign entities and helped our economy.

For years, the effects of these deals did not reach rural areas. But in the last ten years, Mexican drug cartels have established a business model attacking rural America and the law enforcement has not adapted to the problem. Instead, they decided to hire more cops, create more drug positions, petition for bigger jails and argue that the drug problem has been here forever. Is this a solution for Trempealeau County?

Instead of raising your taxes…we need to think for the future-not the past. Stop trying to play catch up and get ahead of the problem!

Posted on 28 Aug 2018, 11:09 - Category: Drugs

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