Ready to lead
Jerry Poltrock will become the city of Weyauwega’s next police chief.
“I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity,” he said. “On Jan. 1, I’ll be taking the reigns from Chief (Ed) Janke.”
Poltrock joined the department in 1995, when he was hired as the school liaison officer.
Since then, he has been promoted to corporal and then sergeant.
The city’s Police and Fire Commission met in closed session several times this fall to discuss promoting Poltrock to police chief.
Last month, Mayor Don Morgan signed the new police chief contract, which had been offered to Poltrock.
“I like what I do. If I didn’t become a chief and had been retired, I would have considered it a successful career,” Poltrock said. “I’m excited to take on the challenge.”
Poltrock grew up in Kenosha. He graduated from Tremper High School in 1986 and from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1990, with a degree in history and education.
“I liked history. I was leaning toward education. I had a passion for it,” Poltrock said of his decision to study history in college.
After college, he moved to Waupaca and began working at Tomorrow’s Children.
“Somewhere in there, I decided I needed a little excitement in my career,” Poltrock said. “My family is heavily vested in public service.”
His father is a retired Kenosha fire chief.
His brother John is the current assistant fire chief in Kenosha, and his brother Jim is the assistant division chief of emergency medical services for the Kenosha Fire Department.
Two of Poltrock’s sisters are married to retired Kenosha police officers.
“So, public service is in my blood. I could have gone to school for anything, and I would have migrated here,” he said.
After working at Tomorrow’s Children for a couple years, Poltrock had the opportunity to go to Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Police Academy.
“It was a 10-week certification,” he said. “I came back to Waupaca and worked for the sheriff’s department water patrol. I started in the summer of 1994 and then was hired in 1995 as the police school liaison officer in Weyauwega. I’ve been working for both ever since.”
During his training at MATC, Poltrock realized that he wanted a career helping people.
Poltrock also knew what type of community he wanted to work in as a police officer.
“I liked the notion of living in a city where there are no streetlights, where you didn’t hear sirens all day and it’s not a big deal when you see a deer,” he said. “We do the same thing as the metro, big departments – just not as many.”
Weyauwega has become his family’s home.
It is where he and his wife Jody are raising their two children – 7-year-old Emma and 4-year-old Evan.
Jody works full time at Happy Tails, which they built seven years ago in partnership with another couple.
Poltrock loved working in the schools, which he did for several years, before moving onto the road full time.
Of being a school liaison officer, he said, “It was new. It was the new thing in law enforcement. I was the first law officer they (the school district) ever had here.”
Poltrock said the department continues to have an officer dedicated to the campus.
When he takes over as chief next year, he will oversee a department which includes three full-time employees and five part-time employees.
“The exciting thing about our department now is we pride ourself in working as a team, not only as a department but in the community,” Poltrock said. “We will continue to take that forward.”
Poltrock also appreciates what he learned from Janke, who served as the interim police chief the past several years.
“The arrival of Chief Janke was paramount in the transformation of the police department,” Poltrock said. “There are a handful of people in Wisconsin with his experience and training. To have him as a personal mentor is incredible.”
Poltrock said the department is a relatively young department.
“We’re very public. People know who we are,” he said. “We will keep moving forward.”