By Joe Bachman
“I just want to thank the community for the opportunity to be their chief, and to say thank you for the support they’ve shown us.”
Humbled words from Chief of Police Kurt Heuer, who will take a final bow from the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department on Jan. 13, 2017, as he retires from 33 years working in law enforcement. From leadership to team building, Heuer has been the guiding force behind Wisconsin Rapids’ finest since 2005.
The time has come for other ventures, as the police chief simply feels like it’s time to move on. However, plans have been made to stay involved with the very community he has served for over three decades.
“I’m looking for opportunities for community outreach,” said Heuer. “Right now we are working hard in the substance abuse arena, and specifically, my passion is substance abuse prevention and education — so on the civilian side I’m hoping to find an opportunity and a role to play in that work.”
A father of two children, getting at the heart of a problem that faces and affects the lives of so many youths in the area will take a precedence after leaving his role as Chief of Police. Speaking of family, Heuer reflects that without the support of his wife and children, he couldn’t have had the success he has had in his career — a career full of many memories.
“When I look back over this career, it’s about the people,” said Heuer. “It’s about the people I worked with, both in law enforcement, and the community partnerships that we developed, which positive work came from that. — When I reflect back, it’s about the work we were able to do with law enforcement, and within our community.”
According to Heuer, he is fortunate to have served locally, as well as hold the distinguished titles of President of the Badger State Sheriff’s Association, and the Wisconsin Chief’s of Police Association.
“I recall when I was elected and went into the presidency of the Wisconsin chiefs, I received an email from a good friend and mentor from Rusk County; Dean Meyer, who said ‘In history there has been no law enforcement administrator to have served both of those presidency roles’, so I’m very proud of that.”
Heuer has also held the position of president for the Wisconsin Police Leadership Foundation, North Central Chief’s of Police Association, as well as served on the Governor’s Council on Homeland Security and the F.B.I. National Academy Associates, just to name a few. However, the legacy that will be left behind trumps these accomplishments, and has a deeper value — which is that of respect from the community to the force.
“This is a tough job, and it’s been one of our goals to make this a work environment that can be fun and enjoyable — but we also know when it’s time for us to do the work and protect the community and be the peacekeepers, which we take very seriously.”
The chief looked fondly upon his past memories and the safe and friendly work environment has was a part of, but also sees the future as bright for the department.
“I look at it with great confidence, that they’ll continue moving forward as a very respected, well trained, service above self agency,” said Heuer. “We’ve got such great people working here. Randy [Jahns] and I, and our years together here — our mantra in hiring was ‘hire for character’ — When I see the people that work here now and the work that they’ll be doing in the future I’m super pleased by the way this agency will respond to Wisconsin Rapids’ needs.”
At the end of the day, when you take out the awards, accomplishments, and titles, Heuer is a public servant, aspects of which he showed an overwhelming amount of gratitude for.
“It’s been an absolute honor to serve as your Chief of Police,” said Heuer. “We have so many critical partnerships between us and our agency and our community — now more than ever when law enforcement in pockets across our nation is not looked upon positively, we have never felt that negativity in our community — we have felt a high level of appreciation and support, and I just want to say ‘thank you’.”