By Sara Tischauser
Three candidates will be on the Aug. 14 Republican primary ballot for the Outagamie County Sheriff. Alex Bebris, John Brylski and Clint Kriewaldt will all be on the ballot.
Each of the candidates were asked three questions and their answers are below.
Why are you running for Outagamie County Sheriff?
Brylski: I feel I have helped and made a positive influence in a lot of people’s lives as a public servant. As sheriff I will have the opportunity to help even more people which is my motivation for running for sheriff. I want to implement police community relations in all aspects of the sheriff’s department and to get the public involved in how the sheriff department’s mission is carried out.
I want to make sure there is a successful implementation of programs to reduce inmate recidivism like Smart on Crime evidence based decision making involving programs involving treatment, education and employment resources.
I believe I can reduce recidivism of 73 percent (noted in the Outagamie Sheriff 2017 annual report) to half that level. I will speak in person with those who have problems coming back to the jail too often. If jail recidivism is lowered Outagamie County will become a safer place to live, lowering taxes.
Kriewaldt: Outagamie County has been my home for the past 42 years. I truly love and care about this county and have developed many close relationships with the citizens throughout the county. I find it very rewarding to serve the community in which I was raised and the community that has been so great to my family.
My wife and I are raising a family of four, (soon to be five), kids in this safe and wonderful community and I look forward to continuing as a leader and positive role model in our local community. I have a strong desire to lead the dedicated members of this department and will work with community leaders and emergency service personnel to ensure the community needs are fulfilled. I will lead an office built on trust, respect, accountability and am committed to making this county a safer community for your family and mine.
Bebris: I retired from law enforcement in 2017 and resettled back in the area while starting a successful business. Factoring in to my decision to return to Outagamie County were family, feelings of home and community, and the business climate. As this race unfolded, I became concerned the announced candidates did not have the experience to keep the sheriff’s department moving forward. There are significant challenges ahead, including jail operations, dealing with the drug problem and school safety. I have previously successfully met these challenges. I have overseen jail operations and made changes that improved the safety and care of the inmates. I have implemented successful programs in both drug interdiction and school safety. After long contemplation, I believe my candidacy is a calling and see running and winning as an opportunity to give back through my experience to the community that has been good to me and my family.
What experience do you bring with you that has prepared you for the sheriff position ?
Kriewaldt: I have worked for the Outagamie County Sheriff’s office for the past eight years where I have served as a patrol deputy, school resource officer and am currently a sergeant. During my previous nine year career in the NFL, nine years coaching high school football and with the sheriff’s department I have consistently displayed my leadership abilities and my strong character.
I have earned the support of area law enforcement leaders and earned endorsements from the following:
Outagamie County Sheriff Brad Gehring
Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis
Outagamie County Deputy Sheriff’s Association
Outagamie County Justice Center Association
Outagamie County Fire Chief’s Association.
My experience as a leader is diverse and my experience as an active community member is well established. I have been a part of this community for many decades and will continue as a positive role model and leader in our community.
Bebris: The sheriff’s department is a complex organization with a budget of 20 million plus, 225 employees and multiple divisions. The breadth and depth of my career has prepared me to lead. I have served in almost every position in a law enforcement agency while working my way up the ranks, starting as part-time officer and eventually becoming chief of police and chief deputy. Augmenting my governmental service, I have served on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, two state chiefs of police associations, and on a state jail board (responsible for advising on rule making authority for conditions and standards of care in local and county jails). Additionally, I have filled a role as a fire chief, overseeing all fire and EMS operations in the community. As a certified law enforcement trainer and instructor, I have taught basic and advanced law enforcement classes in three states.
Brylski: My total 32 years in public service, four years marine corps as basic infantry, field and garrison military police. While in NC I was awarded Meritorious Mast for leading 20 marines responsible for their welfare, training and performance on duty also developed standard operating procedure for the base: receiving Meritorious mast award for excellence as a leader. My one year tour at marine corps base Iwakuni, Japan, I was responsible for the bases impound lost and found and animal control.
My employment at the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department now for over 28 years I have served in many roles: corrections, patrol, sergeant investigator evidence tech and Outagamie County’s first police school liaison officer breaking ground for the future liaison/resource officers. I was recognized by Hortonville School District for excellence as a liaison officer. Also recognized by Sheriff Gehring who stated I established a standard that meant a great deal to this department and broke new ground on a new program that will hopefully catch on in the remaining school districts.
What do you think are the three biggest issues facing Outagamie County that you as sheriff would work to address?
Bebris: The recent audit of care in the jail raises questions about operations. Even after a lawsuit there are persistent problems. The care of the people in custody is of paramount importance. Inmates are members of our community who deserve and require better. I am the only candidate in this race with experience in running and operating a jail and served on a state jail board.
There is a drug problem in the community, but it is not yet a crisis. We have seen other communities go from a handful of overdoses a year to hundreds. It is disturbing to see trends that were precursors to their drug problem expansion occurring right here in Wisconsin. I will implement new methods of interdiction targeting those that bring drugs into the community and provide greater assistance to those fighting addiction.
Every child deserves a safe learning environment. Law enforcement has focused on responding to school violence incidents and response planning is important. But it is more important to prevent violence before it occurs. If elected, I will work even closer with our community partners in the schools to prevent violent incidents and intervene with youth at risk before an incident.
Brylski: The key issues facing our community are drivers operating while intoxicated, crime related to drug use, mental welfare crisis intervention; having listed what I believe to be the top three there is other important issues such as school safety, domestic violence, the high jail recidivism and suicides and medication practices at the jail. Issues also from my experience after having reached out to the leaders in our community speeding, vandalism, littering, violation of weight restrictions by trucks, nuisance calls such as loud vehicles and pet and animal problems. In house problems like low morale at the sheriff’s department. As a county officer, I have witnessed an increase of mental health and substance use related calls in our county. Many of these individuals end up in our system only to reoffend. We are increasingly in need of a treatment-centered approach to law enforcement. For this reason, if elected, I have asked an individual licensed in mental health and substance use disorder treatment to serve as my undersheriff. Mr. Terry Reese is a coast guard veteran, has a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, is a licensed professional counselor and clinical substance abuse counselor. Together, with my strong law enforcement background and his treatment-centered background, we will bring a balanced approach to keeping our community safe.
Kriewaldt: Safety of our school children is an alarming concern and will be taken seriously. Our office will work with all school districts within the county to ensure staff members are properly trained and appropriate safety plans are in place. Our resource officers will continue to work with parents and school staff to identify troubled students and will get them the help they need. I will strongly encourage local school districts to employ full time resource officers.
The increase in opioid and heroin overdoses is greatly affecting public health and safety in our community and require a team effort from all of our partners to address prevention, treatment, policing and harm reduction. The vast majority of crimes such as burglary and theft are directly related to drug abuse. Our department will collaborate with our community justice partners, city and county public health, community leaders, health care professionals, non-profit organizations, and citizens to establish a Multi-Disciplinary Opioid Review Team.
We will continue to invest in alternatives to incarceration programs and will rehabilitate offenders by utilizing our Drug Treatment Court, Mental Health Court, Veterans Court, OAR Court and Young Adult Offenders Program. These diversion programs address the underlying issues related to AODA and mental health before they are significant. We will continue to ensure our jail inmates receive the most appropriate medical care and treatment resources, and will regularly monitor the care provided to them. It is imperative we are always working to better understand the mental health needs of our community.