After more than three decades of police work in Waukesha County, Sheriff Dan Trawicki announced last week it's time to call it quits.
"It definitely is a bittersweet feeling. I've been with the Sheriff's Department essentially since I was 18 years old, starting as my first job out of high school. I left for a short period of time and then in 1979 came back and was sworn in as a deputy sheriff," he wrote in an email.
Trawicki will complete his third term in 2015, wrapping up 12 years serving as sheriff. "We've seen a lot of change in the last 34 years," he said.
Among those changes is the option for communities to contract with the Sheriff's Department, he said. "Certainly working with community leaders and being able to provide them with a police contracting option has worked really well for a lot of our communities. I certainly realize it's not for everybody, but those police contracts we have in place certainly are good examples of how partnerships can work."
Other notable accomplishments during his tenure include involvement with the canine unit and Explorer Program, which helps develop younger generations as potential law-enforcement officers.
But more than touting his own personal accomplishments, Trawicki praises his peers who make the organization strong. "I think more than anything at the Sheriff's Department, I've been proud of all of the men and women that make up this great organization. While, at times, my face may have been on many of these programs, the truth be told, none of them would have worked without the deputies of the department doing as good a job as they have done for so many years," he said.
It's the strength in those ranks that Trawicki said will be of great benefit for the next sheriff. Through years of working together, he said his department now has many strong leaders.
Trawicki said one of the most important jobs of a sheriff, which many may not realize, is about forging partnerships, developing relationships within the community and providing his employees with the tools they need to do their job. But he added that it's also creating public awareness.
"I feel that I also have a responsibility to make sure the general public is aware of what we do every single day and the challenges that we face. I think some things, like our Citizens Academy as an example, has done a good job of getting that message out," he said.
While there's still a year before him, Trawicki said those responsibilities will remain as important for his predecessors, and he's comfortable knowing there's already strong leadership established.
"Certainly all those future leaders in our department will face continued issues that we currently face with our budgets and relationships with other communities. I do believe that consolidation is something that needs to be seriously looked at and worked harder at for all community leaders. I think one of our primary responsibilities as servants of the public and elected officials is to be as prudent as we can with those tax dollars that we are entrusted to.
"A part of doing that is to look at ideas and ways of doing things that are different than we normally have," the sheriff said.
What are his plans for retirement?
"As I look forward to my retirement, I plan on spending more time with family and friends. I would like to get more involved in volunteer work through my church, which I've had an opportunity to do on some level, but not to the level that I'd like to in the future. Certainly retirement will give me an opportunity to spend more time with family and friends, which I look forward to," he said.
Brian Dorow has expressed interest in entering the race for the next Waukesha County sheriff. Dorow is the dean of criminal justice, homeland security and counterterrorism at Waukesha County Technical College. He's led the effort to construct a $1.4 million firing range at WCTC, working to have 30 percent of that cost raised through donations and volunteered services. The range will be open to the public and also offer a state-of-the-art training ground for law enforcement.
Dorow also served with the City of Waukesha Police Department for 10 years. He served on various committees, moving to the rank of sergeant. He was instrumental in establishing a community policing program in Waukesha that earned state recognition.
"Congratulations go out to Sheriff Trawicki on his career. I find the potential opportunity very exciting to be able to serve Waukesha County, and at this time I am exploring the possibility of running for sheriff," Dorow said. He said he will spend the next several days meeting with family, friends and members of law enforcement before he makes an official decision.
Waukesha County Sheriff's Department second-in-command, Eric Severson, declared his candidacy for Sheriff Monday afternoon.
"I am excited to announce that I am a Republican candidate for the office of Sheriff of Waukesha County. Serving in Waukesha County law enforcement for the past 27 years has been an honor and responsibility that I have taken very seriously," he said in a campaign announcement sent Monday afternoon.
The announcement also listed endorsements from current Sheriff, Dan Trawicki, several area police chiefs and Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel.
"With nearly three decades of law enforcement service, I feel I have prepared myself for this next challenge. I am committed to continue my dedication to the citizens of Waukesha County and look forward to serving as the next Sheriff," Severson wrote.