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New officers hired, promoted in Lake Geneva

Rasmussen (click for larger version)
April 02, 2013 | 01:22 PM
No one in their families does police work for a living.

But Lake Geneva's two new detectives and new full-time patrol officer wanted to be police officers from high school, if not earlier.

Police Chief Mike Rasmussen said the department is going through a significant number of changes this year. However, he said he expects the quality of police officers to remain at a high level.

"They're really complete officers," Rasmussen said of department's new detectives "They're good officers and I expect they will be the same as detectives."

The new police officer also showed she is capable of dealing with people, something important in a tourist destination. Rasmussen added.

Gritzner (click for larger version)
"They have to have a lot of common sense," Rasmussen said of his recent hires and promotions. "You have to be courteous to the people."

Because of promotions, a transfer and retirements, two patrol positions had to be filled, detective positions had to be filled and a lieutenant had to be selected, Rasmussen said.

Once headed by a detective sergeant, Det. Sgt. Russ Carstensen is retiring. A lieutenant will manage the two-member detective bureau.

The assistant chief's position will be phased out when Assistant Chief Mike Reuss decides to retire. That rank will also be replaced by a lieutenant's position, Rasmussen said.

Jeff Nethery, a long-time detective, is stepping away from the bureau to become a patrol officer. Det. Russ Carstensen is retiring.

Det. Ed Gritzner was promoted from detective to lieutenant.

"The whole detective bureau was cleared out," Rasmussen said.

Meanwhile, the city has to replenish its supply of part-time reserve officers.

The city hires 12 to 15 reserves every summer, Rasmussen said.

He said last year's class of reserve officers did well. Several got jobs at other police departments as well with the Lake Geneva department.

The Regional News previously printed profiles of Gritzner and new patrol officer Glenn Nettesheim.

Joe Ecklund has experience in many different kinds of law enforcement.

He was a patrol officer, a range officer, a field-training officer, and he worked with the Walworth County drug unit for eight months.

He was also school liaison officer for a year in the Lake Geneva Joint 1 Elementary School District.

"Teachers have it hard," Ecklund said. "As a liaison officer you get a new perspective on what they do."

Starting April 1, Ecklund stepped into a new role, that of detective.

"I was intrigued by the meat and potatoes of police work," he said. "I was always intrigued about how do you get from point A to point Z."

Ecklund is local. He graduated from Badger High School in 2000. His parents are Richard and Donna Ecklund of Genoa City.

He said being from the area helps in his work.

"I know so many people and they know me," he said.

He said he was told in high school that students who graduated from high school in 2000 could expect to go through seven career changes in their lives.

That, he said, was not for him.

"You're in high school and you make a decision about 'what am I going to do,'" he said.

Ecklund said he found what he was looking for in the police ride-alongs.

"It was always something different," he said. "That was the draw to me.

"I knew that's what I wanted to do."

Ecklund said he went to Carroll University, Waukesha, for a bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a minor in social work.

He said he started in police work as a part-time reserve officer and a booking officer in 2001 and earned certification as a police officer at Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton. The Lake Geneva Police Department sponsored his time at Fox Valley Tech, he said.

Genoa City was the first to hire him as a police officer in 2005, he said. Ecklund said he spent a year in the department working under former Police Chief John Marra.

Although he spent only a year in Genoa City, he said he learned much from the veteran police officers there and in the town of Bloomfield. He cited Sgt. Michael Sireno in Genoa City and Police Chief Steve Cole and Sgt. Wilbert Kennedy of the village of Bloomfield as his best teachers.

"It helped having those guys around," Ecklund said. "They were very professional."

But Ecklund said there was no question about him going to Lake Geneva when the department here had an opening. "It's a larger department with more opportunities," he said.

Ecklund said he expects work in the detective bureau to be very different from patrol work. In some ways, it will be more cerebral.

However, he said he doesn't want to give up working with the community.

He said he hopes to continue working with police/community partnerships, such as Neighborhood Watch.

"I hope not to be stuck behind a desk pushing papers."

Seth Keller wants to be a case solver. It's what detectives do.

"I like being able to take a case from start to finish," said Keller, who starts as one of the department's new detectives on April 15. Keller has been a full-time patrol officer with the Lake Geneva Police Department since 2007.

"As an officer, we take the initial complaint, and then we turn it over to the detective bureau," said Keller in a recent interview. "Often, the first officer on the scene never learns what happened to the case."

Keller's chance at becoming a detective came when retirement and a requested transfer resulted in a complete turnover in the two-position detective bureau.

Criminal justice courses that police cadets take include classes in criminal investigations, Keller said.

"But a lot of learning is on the job," he said. "Trying to study for the test for detective is almost pointless."

Candidates take a written test, Keller said. Then they must also orally answer questions during an interview before three detectives from other departments.

In Keller's case, the interviewers were from the Walworth County Sheriff's Office, and the Whitewater and Delavan police departments.

Keller said his parents, his father, the late Martin Keller, and mother, Marsha Keller, pushed him toward a professional career.

When considering his career possibilities in high school, "job security was what I was looking for," he said. Police work provides that security.

Keller said he grew up in Brodhead. He is a 1997 graduate of Brodhead High School. His mother now lives in Tennessee.

Keller said he wanted to stay in the area. He was particularly attracted to the Lake Geneva Police Department.

"Lake Geneva has been real good about offering us training," Keller said.

Keller said he started working part-time with the Lake Geneva police in 2003, starting in the booking department. In the meantime, he took criminal justice courses through Upper Iowa University.

Keller said that his first step as a new detective would be to discuss operations with his new partner and with Lt. Gritzner, who commands the bureau.

Katie Tietz started her field training on March 5, and will be the Lake Geneva Police Department's newest full-time officer.

Tietz, who holds an associate's degree in criminal justice from Gateway Technical College, started with the Lake Geneva police in April 2009 as a booking officer.

She is a 2007 graduate of Wilmot High School, Wilmot.

Tietz's family has a history of public service. Tietz said her mother, Barb, was on the Twin Lakes Police Commission, and her father, Glenn, who is self-employed, serves as a chief engineer with the Twin Lakes Volunteer Fire Department.

Tietz said she had no doubts about a career as a police officer.

"I wanted to do this since I was 5 years old," she said.

What she enjoys about the job is its variety. It's never the same thing twice, she said.

"You can be helping with changing a tire, or you could be helping a family with a life-changing situation," Tietz said. "It's very humbling."

Tietz got her first taste of practical police work through an internship with the Lake Geneva Police Department while she was attending criminal justice classes at Gateway.

It was her experience as an intern that convinced her Lake Geneva was the place she wanted to be a police officer. "I realized how great a department it is," she said.

She said the internship got her involved with dealing with the diverse crowd of tourists who visit Lake Geneva in the summer.

"We'd work the parades and Venetian Fest," Tietz said. Working those community events helped her to see all sides of dealing with the public, she added.

"It makes it easy that the people I'm working with are awesome people," she added.

While Tietz has found her niche in police work, it didn't come easily.

"I worked a lot of jobs in school, including dishwasher and cook," she said.

She said she also worked security at Aurora Hospital, Burlington. Tietz said she took the security job as a way to get into law enforcement. Tietz said she likes everything about being a police officer. Even the paper work.

"Paperwork comes with the job," she added.

Lake Geneva has four full-time female officers now, including Tietz.


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