Meet Guttenberg Police Officer Kari Hoyheim

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By Caroline Rosacker

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” — Fred Rogers

Guttenberg Police Officer Kari Hoyheim is one of Guttenberg's "helpers." Historically, she is also the police department's first female full-time officer. The Guttenberg Press would like to take the opportunity to honor Officer Hoyheim in our salute to National Women's History month. In 1987, Congress passed a law designating March as Women's History month.

Officer Hoyheim grew up in Poynette, Wis., a small community similar in size to Guttenberg in southwestern Columbia County, just outside of the Madison metro area.

Hoyheim told The Press, "I always had a passion for helping people. I was an Emergency Medical Technician for a number of years in Poynette, South Wayne and Hazel Green. My inspiration for becoming an EMT and later a police officer came when I was a little girl." 

She went on to share this story: "When I was nine years old, I was swimming in the shallow end at the local public pool. There was an elderly lady who appeared to have some cognitive issues. She and I were talking about swimming. She asked me to watch her swim, and she asked me to help her if she started to drown. I told her I would help. She was swimming, and she started to struggle as if she couldn't get her feet under her to stand up. I remember being scared and that I actually did nothing to help her. I didn't know what to do, and from that day forward I wanted to know what to do to help someone in need. The lady got her feet under herself and she was okay, but I remember knowing I failed to help when I should have. I never wanted to feel like that ever again." 

The youngest of five siblings, Hoyheim grew up with two sisters and two brothers. Hoyheim was inspired by her father to join the Army Reserve. "My father, an immigrant from Norway, enlisted in the Army and fought in the Korean Conflict as part of his citizenship. I signed up for the Reserves on my seventeenth birthday," she said. 

She shared this about her decision to become a police officer: "After I returned from my deployment in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, I had to make a decision to return to my desk job at Blue Cross or leave my position to pursue college full-time."  

Officer Hoyheim decided to further her education and received an associates degree from Southwest Tech in Fennimore, Wis. Hoyheim said, "Thanks to the  encouragement I received from one of the core instructors who was also my mentor, George Dulzo, I decided to further my education. He was instrumental in helping guide me through the navigation of starting my career in law enforcement." 

Officer Hoyheim completed her education through Wisconsin's Law Enforcement Academy. 

"I had no intentions of ever stepping foot in Iowa. Officer Eric Sullivan kept pestering me to come over and ride with him during patrols. The community's size was what drew me to Guttenberg," she said with a chuckle. 

In September of 2006 Officer Hoyheim was hired as a reserve officer. "The sudden passing of the late Bob Hartmann created a part-time position opening as a dispatcher. I was given the opportunity to pursue the position, and thanks to the late Susan Kuempel and her professionalism and training, I quickly caught on to the job. The combined hours of the two positions created one full-time position," said Hoyheim

The veteran officer's attributes of being kind, empathetic and relatable have gained her a great deal of respect in our community. "Each person I encounter is the most important person of the moment regardless of the circumstances. I treat people how I would want to be treated under similar circumstances," commented Hoyheim. 

Hoyheim shared this about her involvement with the Clayton Counties, Sexual Assault Response Team (SART): "We are a strange mix of individuals that work well together. We are fortunate to have Investigator Brent Ostrander — he does a great job with education and  training throughout the county. We have become a role model for similar programs across the state." 

She went on to say, "Through this program, victims of sexual assault and abuse are more comfortable opening up about an assault. Hopefully, we can effect change through this program." 

A die-hard animal advocate, when Officer Hoyheim is not on duty she likes to stay active and  enjoys spending time working with her dogs teaching them how to track. She also enjoys  spending time at her sister's place in Wisconsin with her horses. 

Officer Hoyheim is grateful for the community's support and trust in her.

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