End of an era: Two Chippewa Valley sheriffs say they’re retiring

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 9:58 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE CO., Wis. (WEAU) -After more than 90 years combined in law enforcement, two Chippewa Valley sheriffs say it’s time to hang up their badges.

“I think there’s only about two of us left in that picture that are here today,” said Jim Kowalczyk, the Chippewa County Sheriff, as he looked at pictures from his career.

Kowalczyk got his start in law enforcement back in the late 1970s.

Since then he’s done just about everything from Traffic Police to undercover work and investigations.

More than a decade ago, he was elected sheriff.

In that time he said a lot of things have changed.

“When I got hired by the county by the Traffic Police we bought our own cars,” Kowalczyk said. “We did not have cages. We did not have portable radios.”

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer has seen change too.

One of the best changes he said is growing a network of collaboration with other departments and groups in the community.

“The partnerships we’ve developed over the last 20 years have been immense, and that’s one of the things that from a legacy, if I could leave, is sustain those partnerships,” Cramer said.

Cramer’s career began in 1975 as a jailer.

After a brief break, he worked in patrol.

Then in 1996 as a write-in candidate, he was elected sheriff.

Still today, Cramer loves his job.

“We’re a little bit misty about leaving, but there is another life at the other end of the dais,” Cramer said.

For Kowalczyk his career has also been his passion.

In all his years as sheriff, he’s never had a sick day.

That’s in part thanks to the support of his wife.

“My hat goes off to Nancy,” Kowalczyk said. “She’s been behind me since I got into law enforcement from day one, and again I owe the world to her.”

“I’ve got to give credit to my wife,” Cramer said. “Back when I worked undercover, she didn’t know where I was.”

The sheriffs also said their success wouldn’t have been possible without all the people they’ve worked with through the years.

As they both look back on their careers, they said they’re proud of the work they’ve done.

Sheriff Kowalczyk said before his term is done, he’s working to get the sheriff’s office body cameras.

New sheriffs will be elected in November.

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