KRONENWETTER, Wis. (WSAW) -- The Kronenwetter Police Department is celebrating 15 years of service. Kronenwetter became a village in November, 2002 and creating its own police department in 2004.
"I started on December 6, 2004," said Dan Joling. He was the department's first police chief and sole officer.
"It was a friend of mine that lived in Mosinee that said, 'Hey, they're looking for a chief in Kronenwetter,' and at first, you know I couldn't even spell it," he said adding that he knew where it was, "but I thought, you know that kind of sounds like an interesting job."
The job provided the rare opportunity of creating a department from the drawing board, following the village board's and his vision.
"I really enjoy green," he said. Green was always part of the plan he explained, from the green uniforms to the green markings on the cars that reflected the village's logo with a set of trees and an eagle.
Joling was in the military for 31 years prior to being a police officer and then served in a patrol capacity at Port Edwards Police Department, then Nekoosa Police Department.
When he started at Kronenwetter, all he had was a folding table in the corner of the municipal building.
"All of my years in the military helped me deal with that, you know, working off a field desk," he laughed.
Coming off a patrol position, he said he knew what materials would be needed for his future officers and created a plan for the department.
"Then it was just a matter of making a list and trying...getting the most I could for the least amount of money," he explained. "Try to buy right, and then take care of it, maintain it, and keep it going as long as you could."
Joling said he looked for as many ways as he could to save taxpayers money and respect the funding he received. He applied for as many grants as he could and made changes when he saw inefficiencies. That is exactly the reason the original design on the squad car was changed to what it is today.
"If we had, like car-deer damage, and we did have car-deer (damage), it would take so much to get all the vinyl back on there and that was an additional cost," he explained.
He says he also was mindful of when he hired officers, hiring them mid-year so the salaries and benefits the village would incur would be easier to budget. He hired a secretary shortly after he was sworn in and hired three officers six months later.
The fourth officer he would hire in June, 2006, would become the department's second chief, Terry McHugh.
"We do a lot of things with limited resources," McHugh stated.
While McHugh dealt with a lot of the growing pains of the new department, including operating as close to a 24/7 department as possible with not enough staff, he says he respects the people that came before him.
"There used to be a bed in the old fire department, a single bed," McHugh said, recalling that his current lieutenant who lived in Minocqua at the time would sleep on that bed if one of the three patrol officers had vacation or was sick so he could cover the next shift. "That's the kind of sacrifice you see still here."
Lucky for the short-staffed department, they were able to hire a fifth officer, making their department able to operate 24/7 by 2007. As of last year, they currently have eight full-time officers and four part-time officers. It also has created a field training programing, making it able to take in first-time officers in a field, which helps to recruit new officers at a time where the field is finding fewer people apply for the career.
One goal of Jolings he was not able to accomplish before retiring in 2016 was bringing on a detective position. It is a position McHugh still hopes to eventually provide.
As Kronenwetter's population continues to grow by the thousands, McHugh says the need for their services will increase, but he says a growing department is what the village intended; one that exudes professionalism.