POLICE WEEK: An Inside Look at the Prairie du Chien Police Department

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Chief Kyle Teynor

Lt. and K-9 Handler Casey Cox

K-9 Rico

Sgt. Tara Henry

Detective Ashley Erickson

Gerald Tippery

Jeff Henry

Max Erickson

Josh Hemmer

Jeremy Cliff

Travis Strnad

Gunner Pitzer

Dwight Kussmaul

Liz LaHaie

Patty Schauf-Yager

All members of the PdCPD answered 8 questions about themselves and their daily duties. Get to know the department more by reading their Q&As as follows. Feature compiled by Correne Martin • Photos by Lindsey Ludvik Photography

1. Name, family, hometown, academy name and other educational background?

2. Date you began with the PdC PD? Other previous related employment?

3. Current position and summary of duties?

4. Why did you want to become a law enforcement officer? 

5. What do you like about serving in a small community?

6. What is the most challenging part of your duties that the public may not realize?

7. Name 1-2 ways the community can help the local police force?

8. Hobbies and community engagement?

 

Kyle Teynor, Married to Brooke, three children – Breanna (17), Owen (14) and Mia (5). Born and raised in Prairie du Chien. Attended Western Technical College in La Crosse and Western Law Enforcement Academy. 

Officially hired by Prairie du Chien PD on Jan. 1, 2003, part-time and started organizing the department’s alcohol compliance checks. I was hired full-time Sept. 22, 2004. Previous related employment was all in customer service roles which transfer well into law enforcement. We really are customer service providers. 

Chief of Police. Executive of the day-to-day operations of the police department. Budget management, employee development, community engagement, special enforcement initiatives, apply for grants, conduct employee reviews, attend civic events and local governmental meetings.

The job changes every day. If you are not changing with it, you will be left behind. That is why I love my job. I will never sit in a cubicle and stare out a window. This career does not allow you to do that. You never know what the radio is going to say next or what the next call for service is going to be…that is addicting.

The success or failure of this city is personal to me. Each one of our officers plays a vital role in the reduction of crime, fear and disorder. If we take that responsibility seriously and understand what impact we can have on individual lives, neighborhood enjoyment and community peacefulness, Prairie du Chien will continue to thrive.

That we really can’t do more with less. In 2001, our department had two detectives, two sergeants and a lieutenant. Over the course of time, we lost one detective and one sergeant. Those two positions had responsibilities that are now being juggled by one person. Officer wellness has been an important message through law enforcement in recent years. It is difficult, as the chief, to continue to expect one person to do the job that two people used to do while being concerned about adequate time off, quality of work and consistency of work.

Get involved. We offer several events throughout the year that we deliberately set up so that we can engage with the public and break down barriers to better communicate the mission of the police department while listening to the expectations of the community. Also, be in touch. Call us. If you have a concern or a problem, there isn’t anything we can do to help you if we are not made aware of it.

I enjoy spending quiet time with my family playing board games. I never lose at Clue (OK maybe once). I enjoy watching my kids participate in extra-curricular activities and am just starting to figure out what a weekend off is. I also take special interest in training other law enforcement professionals in police leadership classes throughout Wisconsin. I am the vice-chairman of the Children’s Advisory Board, an adult advisor for Sources of Strength, a member of the Knights of Columbus and call winning numbers at bingo for the Holy Family Parish Home and School Association.

 

 

Casey Cox, from PDC, SWTC Academy, MATC Associate’s and Upper Iowa University/Madison for Bachelor’s

I started part time in September of 2012 and full time Oct. 1, 2013. Part-time Crawford County Sheriff’s Department from May 2012-present. 

Lt. and K-9 Handler. Main focus is on drug investigations.  

I became a LEO as I wanted to stay active and not have the monotony like most jobs. I wanted to try and make a difference in a community and people’s lives. It also sounded fun to be able to carry a gun and drive fast legally.

The biggest pleasure about working in a small community is knowing I am impacting lives and making a difference. As I have focused mainly on combating the methamphetamine crisis during the last several years, I know I have influenced people and have made a difference in lives. Working in a larger city or agency, officers do not get a chance to see the impact they make as often and first hand as we do here.

A way to help would be to call and provide information regarding suspicious activity when it is currently happening. This information has led to many drug arrests and is commonly overlooked by people.  

I am very active in the community as I present drug recognition to businesses and conduct K-9 demonstrations with Rico. I enjoy fishing, boating, and attending various sporting events when not training with K-9 Rico.

 

Tara Henry, Prairie du Chien

I attended UW-Platteville where I received my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with an emphasis in law enforcement. After college, I attended Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and completed the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Academy. 

I started part time with the Prairie du Chien Police Department in August of 2009. I was hired full-time on Aug. 4, 2010.

I am currently a Sergeant. Some of my duties include: Overseeing the day to day operations of patrol staff, responding to police officer’s requests for a supervisor, manage department fleet, organize department personnel training opportunities, maintain training records, manage schedules including special event operational plans, review officer reports, apply for grants and manage awarded grants, and respond to calls for service by the community.

I have always been intrigued by the many different aspects of law enforcement and honestly, I thought this job would be fun. This job is always changing and we never know what we are going to be dealing with that day. One day we could be enforcing traffic laws and the next we could be responding to call after call. The unknown each day always keeps it interesting!

I like getting to know people on a more personal level. I feel that serving a small community gives us the opportunity to build relationships with citizens and allows citizens to see we really are your normal every day people.

The most challenging part of our duties is learning to balance/separate our everyday life from work. Police officers see and hear things that most do not. Learning how to properly deal with those things and not take it home, where it affects our family, can be extremely challenging. Police officers are just people, who happen to wear a uniform and badge. Officer wellness has become a priority at the Prairie du Chien Police Department. We currently have two certified officer wellness instructors, as well as a department chaplain. These three individuals are there to support, listen and find solutions to the stresses that the officer may be facing. Department Chaplain, Andy Doll, has been one of the greatest assets the police department has ever had.  

We are a fairly small department and unfortunately can not be everywhere at once. If you see something, say something. What a community member may think is a small or unnecessary piece of information, could, and most likely will, help us solve and/or prevent crime.  

I am the Crawford County Crime Stoppers President, member of the Eagle’s Club, and member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and traveling.

 

 

Ashley Erickson

I was born and raised in Prairie du Chien and most of my family is from here as well. My husband and I have two children.  

I have been with the Prairie du Chien Police Department for almost 13 years full time. I graduated from UW-Platteville and attended the police academy at Southwest Technical College.

I was hired full time January of 2007, and before that I worked part-time for a short time.

I am currently the department Detective. I was promoted in 2017. I am in charge of general investigations such as sensitive crimes, financial crimes, etc. I am also the defense and arrest tactics instructor and taser instructor. I am responsible for the organization of our police department’s Citizen’s Academy.

I enjoy serving this community, because it has been a part of my whole life. I have roots here and want to protect the way of life and peacefulness here.

I became a law enforcement officer, because this is all I ever wanted to do. I knew I would thrive in this profession, and felt a responsibility to achieve my goal.

The most challenging part of this position is that even after putting months of work into a case, no charges may ever be filed. Even though I did my part, it still feels like a failure when there is no outcome.

Use our Crime Stoppers Facebook page or the Crime Stoppers phone number and don’t be afraid to reach out to us with information or concerns you may have. Knowledge is power.

I enjoy reading and being active outdoors. I love kayaking, hiking and spending time with my family.

I am a member of the Eagles Club. I am also a member of the Crawford County Children’s Advisory Board. I volunteer with Crawford County Girl Power each year and sit on the Crawford County Treatment Court.

 

Gerald Tippery

Wife Phyllis and three children

Southwest Tech,  Law Enforcement Officer Accreditation

Aug. 20, 1980

Night shift traffic and security patrol

To help people in need.

You get to help some of the people you know.

Laws changing on how we have to do our jobs.

 

Jeff Henry

I’m married and have three children. I attended Southwest Technical College.

I started with the police department in 2005 when I went back to college. I was a machinist prior to becoming a police officer.

I am a day shift patrol officer and my duties include traffic enforcement and calls for service.

I became a police officer because I thought it would be good to help and support the community.

I like serving a small community because I pretty much know everybody.

The most challenging part of the job is the constant changing of the laws.

The community can always help the police department out by calling in activity that doesn’t seem right, if you see something, say something by calling us. The small things sometimes lead to bigger things.

My hobbies include hunting and fishing. I am a member of the Eagles Club and I am the Special Olympics law enforcement representative. 

 

Max Erickson, New Glarus

Graduated UW-Platteville and attended Southwest Tech Advanced Standing Academy

Started at PDCPD in October 2007. Prior to that, I worked for just over a year at Green County Sheriff’s Department starting as bailiff and moving to full-time in dispatch.

Field Training Officer. I train in all new hires either full or part-time. Each traineetakes about 3 months to train.

I grew up on a dairy farm and was going to stay home on the farm after High School. My parents would not allow me to do that unless I first went to college. I chose criminal justice as it was more interesting than all of the other programs. I enjoy the adrenaline rush most of all, but also the “unknown.” What other job can you leave for work, and not know what you are going face that day? I also take pride in helping those who cannot help themselves, and seeing a positive result in the end.

There are pros and cons to serving a small community, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. We are fortunate to have a community that supports law enforcement (see it in the comments on social media, and hear it out on the streets). I have seen first-hand where the community assists us, or asks if we need help when we find ourselves in an unsavory situation.

That your call is priority, but may not be over someone else’s call. Meaning, when we show up a half an hour later or an hour later, it was not because it was not important to us. We may have just finished doing CPR on a person ... and they did not make it. We may have just gotten done assisting a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault. Your call is important to us but there are only so many officers working at one time.

Become involved. Our Citizen’s Academy is a great way to become educated in what we deal with and problems in our community. Like we have said in the academy, we want you to be able to leave here, and educate others on what we truly do. Meaning, you hear someone complaining that there was a squad car sitting in the parking lot of a church for a long period of time. Educate them, and let them know that maybe there have been several break ins in that area, or that officers may have been doing K-9 training inside of the buildings nearby.

I am married to Ashley Erickson, who is detective at the police Ddpartment, and we have two boys. In my free time, I enjoy playing fastpitch softball with Lifetime Seamless Gutters of Wauzeka. I am also a diehard Badger Fan, and attend games throughout the season. I am a member of the Prairie du Chien Eagles Club and currently sit as a trustee.

 

Josh Hemmer

Married with 2 children 

Prairie du Chien, Southwest Tech

Jan. 9, 2008

Patrolman Protecting and serving the community of Prairie du Chien

I saw the job as a challenge. You never know what could happen next.

I like how I know people. Also, I believe, in a smaller community, the police department gets more support.

Seeing things that are not always nice to see.

Be supportive although I believe we have a lot of support in the community.

 

Jeremy Cliff, Patch Grove

Police Academy Southwest Technical College, UW-Platteville criminal justice major, minor in business administration, emphasis in law enforcement

Hired Date: April 10, 2017

Field Training Officer, patrol officer

I grew up with family members in law enforcement.

Working for a small community is unique because you interact with many people who already know you.

The most challenging part of our work the public may not realize is the large variety of duties we do each day. For example traffic enforcement, public presentations, criminal investigations, responding to calls, follow-up investigations, report writing, general equipment management, and emergency detention transports.

I think our community is already very supportive So, keep it up!

Crawford County PAL Mentor, spending time with family and friends.

 

Travis Strnad

Brothers are Justin and Brett Strnad, mom and dad are Dan and Amanda Strnad. Grandparents are Gerald and Judy Strnad. Born in Prairie du Chien, educated at Prairie du Chien High School. Completed Associate’s Degree in criminal justice at Western Technical College. Completed Police Academy at Western Technical College as well. 

Officially hired by Prairie du Chien on May 31, 2018. First day of work in uniform was June 21. I worked security jobs with Western Technical College while in school and Allied Universal Security after completing school. I worked part-time at Allied Universal after being hired by the police department until January of 2019. 

Patrol Officer. My duties include patrolling the city of Prairie du Chien, answering calls for service, and assisting the citizens of Prairie du Chien when asked. 

Originally I wanted to be a historian, but when I found out there would be up to 12 years of schooling, I decided to do something else. I knew I didn’t want to be inside a building all day and wanted to be outside and doing a different job every day, so I decided on policing. I haven’t regretted the decision since!

It may seem odd, but when you deal with people multiple times it allows you to create a professional relationship with that person that makes future involvement a lot easier.

A lot of the mental health problems people struggle with gets thrown at you when they or someone else calls. You really do feel for people who are going through a tough time mentally and you can’t help but wonder who else knows, or if you’re the only one besides them that knows. As a law enforcement officer there’s only so much you can do in the limited amount of time you’re speaking with someone. Personal experiences with things like depression and other mental health problems really makes the issue hit close to home. 

Get involved. If there is information about a crime you know about, please share. We cannot make this community as safe as possible without community engagement. 

I love to hunt and fish and spend time outdoors, especially on the river. 

 

Gunner Pitzer, hometown is Boscobel, Southwest Technical College

March, worked for Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, Fennimore and Boscobel Police Departments

Patrolman, community policing, self-initiated field activity. 

Being able to serve and protect the public, help those in need and come up with solutions to problems people are having.

Being able to work closely with a community and build community trust while doing so. One thing that is great about a small community is you can see the difference you helped make. You are able to establish trust and confidence in the community that you serve and live in. 

Having people understand that law enforcement is there for them. We want for you to have 100 percent confidence in our police department. We strive to have the community be open with us on the issues they are facing. 

If you see something report it. Even if you feel borderline on the issue, let us help you. We, as a department, want to provide an environment in which everyone can feel safe. This can not be done without you, the community. 

Working out, hunting, fishing, serving in the Guard and ultimately giving back to the community in any way I can. I recently obtained my Hunter Safety instructor certification and would really like to start teaching classes in Prairie, so I can get kids and young adults more involved in the outdoors. 

 

Dwight Kussmaul, I am married and have 2 daughters, Bloomington, graduated from Southwest Technical College in criminal justice and completed the SWTC Law Enforcement Academy, all in 2011.

I was hired by the Prairie du Chien Police Department in April of this year. I previously worked for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department since 2011. 

I am currently a Police Officer. Some of my duties are to interact with the public, keep the community safe, respond to calls in the city, and enforce traffic laws. I enjoy knowing I could make a positive difference in the lives of others.

I have wanted to be a law enforcement officer since I was a kid. I have had nothing but good contacts with law enforcement and always looked up to law enforcement. I love being a role model for children and showing them that police officers aren’t someone to be scared of; we are only there to help you. I also love community involvement, which is why I chose to start with the Prairie du Chien Police Department. I feel as though community policing is one of the most important things in this career. In an ever-changing and evolving world, it is crucial for law enforcement to have more involvement with new generations.

I like serving a small community because it means that you get to know everyone better, and more on a first-name basis. When you have professional contacts with individuals, they are more likely to work with law enforcement because you have a prior relationship with them. It’s all about building trust and establishing rapport. The bonds we build within our community will create greater outcomes.

The most challenging part the public may not realize is that all we want at the end of the day is for both law enforcement and the general public to make it back home to their families. We do not take anything personally and ask that the public does the same. Our goal is to be there for you, especially when you need us the most.

The community can help law enforcement by speaking up whenever they observe a crime being committed. You may not think we need help, but every bit of it is appreciated. The more information you can give us about a case, the faster we can come up with a solution.

When I am not working I love to hunt, fish, and do pretty much anything outdoors with my family. I also enjoy doing woodworking in my free time. I have been a volunteer for the Crawford County Learn to Hunt turkey program since 2014. I also try to help out at any local events when I am able.

 

Elizabeth LaHaie, Prairie du Chien

I attended Western Technical College and received an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice and then attended the police academy at Western Technical College.

I was hired in November of 2015. I am currently a part-time officer with the police department and a part-time deputy with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department. 

I work in a part time officer capacity so I work patrol shifts when needed. I enforce traffic laws, respond to calls for service, and I also spend a lot of time enforcing municipal code violations throughout the city. 

Growing up, I was always interested in where the squad car was going when I saw it speeding down the road with all their lights. Once I entered high school, I started doing ride-alongs with the police department and found that I could really see myself being a police officer. 

I like working in a small community because you really get to know the people you are serving. I think that our officers have many more opportunities to positively impact the community. Our officers are able to interact and attend events that are supported and organized by the community. One of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of being a police officer is the opportunity to help people out of a bad situation, get back on their feet, and hopefully change their life.

Two of my biggest challenges about being a police officer are ensuring a 100 percent unbiased mindset at all times and realizing that not everyone thinks police officers are being helpful. I also think the hours that police officers work are sometimes forgotten. There are always officers on duty 24/7, every holiday, every weekend to serve and protect the community in every way necessary. 

I think one of the best ways the community can help the police force is by getting involved with events that are offered in our community. Get involved with the citizens academy or do a ride-along and see what police officers do in a day’s work. 

Hobbies include hunting, biking, hiking and spending time outdoors.

 

Patricia Schauf-Yager

I have two adult children. My son Seth and his wife Stacy have been married for two years. My daughter Brienne has two boys, Finley and River. All of them live very nearby so we’re able to spend lots of time together, which I love.

I was raised in Prairie du Chien. I attended WWTC and earned an associate degree in business administration-personnel. I was hired by the city of Prairie du Chien immediately after graduation. In the early 1990s, I attended Southwest Tech, obtained my criminal justice-law enforcement degree and worked as a part-time police officer for over 25 years, retiring in 2017. I also dispatched and jailed at times during my career. I recently earned my certificate for Leadership in Police Organizations. I am currently the administrative assistant for the Prairie du Chien Police Department.

I began employment with the police department in 1984. I have had the honor of working for many dedicated officers and four chiefs of police. I am very close to the officers and can absolutely say that we have the very best department. Prairie du Chien police officers are truly the most dedicated, caring people I know. I see daily on the inside what the officers do to assist the citizens. Officers are people just like you.

Some of the community volunteering I have done through the years has included: PdCHS Booster Club, PdCHS Wrestling Almuni, little league, Jaycees, Calvary Cemetery Committee, Crawford County Crime Stoppers, Children’s Advisory Board, Futures Scholarship Committee, American Red Cross, PALS mentoring, Eagles Auxiliary and community policing.

Children from a nearby day care stop often and knock on my window at the police department, yelling for “Gramma Patty” to come out and see them.

My parents and three siblings live in Prairie du Chien, and one sister in La Crosse. Fun time is spent with my children and grandchildren; fishing, biking, attending my grandsons’ activities, playing any type of ball with them, playing garbage cards, going to concerts with my son, and just hanging out with my daughter. Our favorite time together is probably around a camp fire, going to a Brewers game or Packers Family Fun Night.

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