EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Now that the city of Eau Claire is about to hire a new police chief, officers are praising current chief Jerry Matysik for making the department better during his tenure.
After more than 30 years on the forces and 10 as police chief, Matysik said last week, he’s about to retire.
He said it's the right time to go, with an opportunity to take on new challenges and the department in a good place.
“If you ask just about anybody, they're going to miss his leadership, that's the biggest thing we're gonna miss,” Eau Claire Lt. Jim Southworth said.
“Somebody told me years ago that ‘You'll know when it's time. You'll feel it,’ and it's time. I love this dept. I'm privileged to have been the chief and I really like the people here, so that'll be hard, but it's time for a change,” Matysik said.
He and his staff said many changes happened in the department within the past 10 years, most significantly with the growing use of technology.
“A lot of what we're doing is based on data and research and science, and we're leveraging technology to help us be more effective. The flip side of that coin is technology has also provided criminals an entirely new set of crimes.”
Both current and former officers said Matysik has left his mark on the department through his hires and structure.
“If a person called in the same crime over and over again, we'd keep responding back and forth to that call. Since the chief has come in, he's lead us to the problem area policing,” Southworth said.
“Chief Matysik brought the department in a direction where we're focused more on solving the problem that creates the crime that we have to respond to, and I think he's done a very good job of that,” former Deputy Chief Eric Larsen.
The “quiet leader” said he's proud of the work his department did handling major crimes but even more proud of what their interactions with the public every day.
From 2002 to 2012, the department reported a decrease in what the department calls "part one incidents," including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, battery and theft by more than 800 cases.
Matysik said he also used his voice as a platform to speak out for victims of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and for those suffering with mental health issues.
“He's a smart guy and he knows how to motivate people and create a strong healthy culture on the police department,” Larsen said.
“I wish him luck and am sad and happy for him that he's going to move on and do something different and advance his career in a different way,” Southworth said.
With a new job consulting public safety agencies up next Matysik had some advice for his successor.
“Don't make decisions based on trying to make any particular person happy. Do what's right for the community, do what's right for the org. As a whole and let those be your guide,” he said.
The chief said he'll leave the force this fall. He said he's not sure when his last day will be.
The Police and Fire Commission has the duty of selecting the new chief.
Candidates from both inside and outside of the department are expected to apply.