Buccholz new police chief
October 05, 2011 | 08:16 AMSHARON — On the surface, most people wouldn't spot similarities between the lakefront community of Fontana and the working-class town of Sharon.
However, Brad Buccholz can find quite a few similarities between the two communities, especially when it comes to law enforcement.
"I think the Sharon Police Department is similar to Fontana in size, amount of officers and the equipment they use," Buccholtz said. "It's similar to the community policing that happens here, it happens there."
On Monday, Buccholz started his first day as the Sharon police chief. For the last 15 years, Buccholz has worked in law enforcement in the village of Fontana, seven of which he spent as lieutenant.
"I've always had the aspiration to go into a supervisory role," Buccholz said.
Buccholz said, as the new chief, he would like to improve the relationship between Sharon Elementary School and the Police Department.
One of his plans is to have an officer at the school greet students in the morning. He also would like to bring the Packer Pals program to Sharon.
In 1998, Buccholz and Fontana officer Mark Chalchoff started a program called Packer Pals. In the program, children received Packer cards each time they spoke to a police officer. At the end of the season, the kid with the most cards received a prize.
Although the program hasn't existed in Fontana for several years, Buccholz said it is one way for children to become comfortable talking with police.
Although Buccholz is excited about his new position, he said it won't be easy to leave his old job.
"It is with mixed emotions that I leave the village of Fontana and prepare for my new responsibilities as the village of Sharon's chief of police," Buccholz said. "Fontana's Chief of Police Steve Olson and the men and women of the Fontana Police Department are second to none in their commitment to public safety and community policing."
Buccholz said he owes a "great deal of appreciation" to his old boss.
"Fontana's Chief Olson has provided mentoring and training that I wouldn't have received in any other department.
His former boss said Buccholz, as would anyone who takes on a chief role, will have his hands full in his new job.
"Small town police chiefing is a real challenge, but Brad has had a front row seat here for about 15 years," Olson said.
Olson said Buccholz experienced a similar challenge when he moved into the supervisory role in Fontana.
It isn't always easy for an officer to move from a rank and file position to a supervisory job, Olson said.
"He had to earn their respect and he had to earn credibility at a supervisory level," Buccholz said.
In an e-mail to various area reporters, Sharon Village President Diana Dykstra announced the village had hired Buccholz.
"Brad has some rather large shoes to fill. Wolfgang Niche was an asset to the department and the village. Fortunately, I know Brad is up for the challenge and we are excited about what he is going to bring to the village of Sharon," Dykstra wrote. "Brad brings a wealth of experiences, education, and training, that will assist us in engaging our residents in the police services we provide," Dykstra said.