The City of Jefferson Police Department | The City of Jefferson Police Department: History
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Jefferson’s Guardians

The History of the Jefferson Police Department

Jefferson, Wisconsin 

The City of Jefferson has come from an obscure settlement to a city of prime importance, and large interests. It is connected by rail with all the important points and contains a population who have, by their industry, enterprise, and frugality, become the possessors of wealth and factors of influence throughout the State of Wisconsin. 


Town of Jefferson


The records of the Town of Jefferson, previous to April 5, 1843, are missing. There has been doubt expressed as to whether any existed prior to that date. Records reveal that in 1843, James C Frost was constable and in 1844, George Crist, Josiah Drew, and Gay Hayden were constables. 


From the records accessible, it appears that a town meeting was convened on April 5, 1845, at which presided a moderator and a clerk, and the election of officers was held with Abram Vanderpool and George Crist being elected as constables, along with Harvey Sanborn, Abram P Birdsay, and Chas. Hoyt. Officers were elected at subsequent meetings held annually until 1857 with the following elected as constables: 


1846 – Chas Hoyt, Gay Hayden, and H D Phelps 


1847 – Othello s Brandon, Nathanial Crosby, and Harman V Hellen 


1848 – Othello s Brandon, Solon Brown, and Ralph P Harrington 


1849 – Zebulon Whipple, Moses Phillips, and Peter Oelberg 


1850 – Othello S Brandon, Franklin J Roberts, and John Anthony 


1851 – John Anthony and Chas Frissell 


1852 – E G Darling, Jesse Hubell, and W W Seeley 


1853 – Jesse Hubell, John Anthony, and Eber Stone 


1854 – S A Brown and A G Locke 


1855 – John Brown, A G Howes, Eber Stone, and F F W Meyer 


1856 – J Bell, John Young, and Conrad Heger 


1857 – Ira W Bird, Isaac Savage, and George Hebard (George Hebard was elected to fill a vacancy.) 




By an act of the Legislature, approved on March 9, 1857, a certain piece or parcel of land described by metes and bounds, and known as the Town of Jefferson, was set apart as a township proper and created a body corporate and politic, by the name and style of the Village of Jefferson, to be competent to have and exercise all the rights and privileges, and be subject to all the duties and obligations, pertaining to a municipal corporation. 


The government of the village was vested in a President, four Trustees, a Marshal, a Treasurer, and an Assessor, to be elected on the first Tuesday of May annually. These citizens were to hold their respected offices for one year or until their successors were chosen and qualified. 


At subsequent elections, until the village charter was amended in 1867, and the subsequent incorporation of the village into a city, the following served as Village Marshals: 


1858 – Eber Stone 


1859 – S N Massey 


1860 – Michael John 


1861 – J F W Meyer 


1862 – John Reichel 


1863 – Joseph Hotter 


1864 – John Sixbee 


1865 & 1866 – J G Heilmann 


1867 – James L Manville 


1868 – C J Weiss 


1869 – Peter Nettersham 


1870, 1871, & 1872 – A Brown 


1873 – G Muck 


1874 – A Brown 


1875 – C Whipple 


1876 & 1877 – A J Vandewater 


Also serving as Constables were Charles Whipple – 1876 and A J Vandewater. 


The amendment to the village charter approved April 4, 1876, provided for the election of a Police Justice triennially. In accordance therewith, Geritt T Thorn was chosen at the election held the following May, but failing to qualify by June 15, a special election was held, at which J F W Meyer was elected his successor, and served until the charter election of 1870, when C A Holmes was elected. 


In 1871, Captain Nelson Bruett was elected to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Mr Holmes. In 1872 he was elected for a term of three years. In 1875 W L McKenney was elected. 



By an act of Legislature approved on March 19, 1878, the Village of Jefferson was incorporated as a city, divided into three wards, and provisions were made for the government thereof by the election of a Mayor, a Police Justice, two Aldermen, and one Supervisor from each ward. Elections for Mayor and Alderman were to be held annually, for Police Justice, once every three years. All other officers necessary for the management of the city were to be appointed by the Common Council. 


In obedience of the provisions of the Charter, elections were held on April 9, 1878, with W L McKenney being elected as Police Justice. Pursuant to Section 2, Chapter VII, of the Charter, the Common Council convened on Tuesday evening, April 16, 1878, organized and appointed officers, and A J Vandewater was appointed Marshal. At a meeting of the Common Council, convened on Tuesday evening, April 15, 1879, A J Vandewater was again appointed Marshal. No records were found or available from 1879 to 1900 in the notes and resources used for this text.


Early 20th Century


In July of 1900, the Common Council approved bills for the Special Police; Charles Buchta, William Lawien, Frank Greve, F A Williamson, and William Riess. 


A few other notes of interest in July of 1900: 


Harry Brown and Frank O’Hearn were arrested for breaking into the house of Charles Koss during the Fireman’s Tournament. Neither one could pay the $500.00 bail, so they were sent to the County Jail. The two men tried to escape from the jail using a small saw they had hidden, but some visitors at the jail slammed a door, which caused the sawed-out portion of the iron bar to dislodge and fall on the floor. On July 26, 1900, Brown and O’Hearn pled guilty to the house break-in and were sentenced to 13 months in state prison. 


An unsuccessful attempt to steal a diamond ring from Henry Fischer was made on July 19, 1900, and an unsuccessful burglary attempt was made at the August Stoppenbach residence. 


On August 30, 1900, City Marshal, Frank Pfaller, resigned. Frank then opened a saloon in the McAtee building. He was granted a liquor license on September 1, 1900. 


Fred Jahn was paid for Special Police work on September 13, 1900. 


Ed Beinfang served the City of Jefferson as Constable and Chief of Police for sixteen years, from 1919 until his retirement in April 1935. Ed would sit under the porch at the Jefferson House, enjoying his favorite hobby of whittling. When the vehicles of that day would speed past him, he would only whistle at them, as he had no means of chasing them except on foot. The young drivers of that day knew Ed had no transportation, so they would speed up as they drove past him. Even the youngsters from Fort Atkinson would do this. Upon the resignation of Ed Beinfang, four men were in the running for the position of Chief of Police. Charles Markgraff, George Schreibre, Nolan Henry, and Glenn Raithel. In the April election of 1935, Charles Markgraff was elected Chief of Police and held that position until his retirement in May of 1946. 


During Chief Markgraff’s reign, the Police Department was located above the Fire Department at S Center Ave and E Milwaukee St. Herbert West helped out as a part-time Officer and City employee. 


Jim King was hired by the City as a night watchman. His sole duty was to check the doors of the merchants to ascertain all were secured for the night. 


A break-in at the new Post Office was never solved. Uppermost in the minds of citizens was the possibility of an inside job. Chief Markgraff had no squad car, only his own personal car, which he provided his own gasoline for. After a while, the gas was paid for by the City. Wages at that time were approximately $90.00 to $110.00 per month. 


The Police Department did have a telephone and Mrs Markgraff would answer it. If Mrs Markgraff needed to speak with the Chief, she would turn on a switch that lit a light on the corner of Main and Racine St (below the clock), which would indicate to the Chief that he should go to the theater and call in. The theater was located across the street from the light. 


Robert Leedle also served as a part-time Officer when the need arose. The Syl Spangler Service Station was held up by two men and a woman. Sheriff O’Brien assisted in looking for the three suspects and traced them to Madison. The Madison Police Department helped and found the three suspects hiding in a discarded railroad car. By sunset the same day, all three were arrested. The two men were incarcerated at Waupun State Prison and the woman was incarcerated at Tyceedah. 


At one time, a bum stole two pars of female’s unmentionables. He was taken to the jail, where he was searched, and was found to be wearing both pairs. In those days a lot of bums came into Jefferson and some usually ended up in jail. Chief Markgraff made over 200 arrests during his term of office and never lost a case. 


During his years in office, Chief Margraff only had three Sundays off. He decided to retire in May of 1946, after being offered a position as a custodian for the Jefferson High School. He accepted the position and stayed on for 15 years. During his time as custodian, he made many friends and watched those young friends grow up and have kids of their own. 


Mr. Carroll Beecher was appointed Chief of Police in 1946, and served until 1948, when he moved to Florida. 


Herbert West was appointed Chief of Police in 1948 and held that office until he retired in January of 1969. In 1963, the City acquired the former National Guard Armory at 112 W Dodge St and the City Offices and Police Department were moved there from the upstairs of the Fire Department. 


Upon Chief West’s retirement, Charles Johnson of the Waukesha Sheriff’s Department was appointed as Chief of Police. Johnson took office on February 1, 1969. He had served with Waukesha Sheriff since 1951. 


The Jefferson Police Officers formed the Professional Police Association in 1969. Money made during the annual dance was used to treat knotholers to the High School football games. The money was also used annually for a film festival held the Saturday before Christmas for all the youth in the City of Jefferson. This event was held in the High School auditorium, and everyone in attendance was treated to a visit by Santa Claus. Since 1974, a scholarship was awarded to a student from Jefferson High School, who upon graduation, would be entering a Police Science field of work. 


The first female secretary at the Police Department was Darlene Buerger. Bertha Stammer also worked part-time for the department. In 1971, Barbara Patterson was hired as a full-time secretary and meter maid. She resigned in March of 1973. Mavis Aumann was then hired to fill the position of clerk/dispatcher/meter maid. 


In 1971, the Police Officers formed a union and were affiliated with the Teamsters Local 695, for the negotiation of their union contract in 1972. They are now represented by the WPPA (Wisconsin Professional Police Association) for contract negotiations with the City of Jefferson. 


In July of 1975 City Hall was vacated for remodeling of the Armory Building. The Police Department was housed in the basement of the Jefferson Public Library during this time. March 1, 1976 the Police Department moved into a new and larger facility as part of the construction project on the Armory. 


With the retirement of Chief Charles Johnson on March 29, 1986, Michael P. Besel was hired as Chief of Police. Charles Johnson moved to Florida, where he worked as Chief of Police for a retirement village. He worked at the retirement village with William Ciske, who had retired as Chief of Police from the Fort Atkinson Police Department. Chief Johnson passed away in 2016. 


Chief Besel was hired May 7, 1985. Chief Besel came from the Watertown Police Department, where he rose through the ranks and became a Lieutenant. Chief Besel brought to the department many changes. He also upgraded much of the equipment and placed an emphasis on Community Policing. He considered training a priority and exceeded the state standards in training for the department. Plans were discussed with City Council for a new building to house the department to alleviate overcrowding. 


Establishment of the City of Jefferson Police Department 


As memory serves, Charles Markgraff was elected Chief of Police and served five terms, leaving the department in 1946. During this time, police matters were handled by the Chief during the day and they were handled by Herbert West at night. The work was 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Police patrol was done with the officer’s private cars, and the city paid them a car allowance. 


From 1946 -1947, Herbert West acted as Chief of Police. In 1947, the City Council passed an ordinance to reorganize the department with officers being appointed by the council instead of being elected by the popular vote of the people. Carroll Beecher of Milwaukee was appointed Chief of Police. Herbert West and Larry Reuhl served with him and provided the city around the clock protection. 


A 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline 2 door squad car was purchased and equipped with a two-way radio, red lights, and a siren to provide better service to the city. At this time, there were about 18 miles of streets to patrol. This was the first squad car that was City owned. Prior to this officer’s had to utilize their personal cars for patrolling and answering calls. A call light system was used to summon the officer when he was on the streets checking doors at night. 


In 1951, Herbert West was appointed Chief of Police and served until his retirement in 1969. During his tenure, many changes were seen in the city. Parking meters were installed, and a new Main Street Bridge was built and paid for with funds from the parking meters. More and better equipment was purchased, including an electric speed timer and new oxygen inhalators. Main St was widened, repaved, and new street lights were added. Subdivisions were opened up and new homes were built. Four new schools were built, and additions were made to two existing schools. Along with this growth came additional problems for the police department and the people demanding more services for their tax dollars. In 1952, the department had four men. In 1956, there were five men. In 1969, there were nine men. 


In 1969, Charles Johnson from Waukesha was appointed Chief of Police. New programs were implemented for training officers and an auxiliary unit was formed to assist at local civic functions. 


Continuing education has been stressed to keep abreast of the rapidly changing methods of police science and administration. Each officer undergoes an annual in-service training program to aid in his work. New firearms have been purchased and an update of the newest equipment has been added, including a modern police photography lab. 


The city now has 30 miles of streets. Patrolling is done with two fully equipped squad cars, including the latest radar speed detectors. A third unmarked car is used by the detective and the juvenile officer. 


The police department was now located on the lower level of City Hall, includes a garage for police vehicles, and an indoor range. The 2-man force in 1936 has grown to 11 men and 1 clerk/dispatcher, and the city has grown from 2600 citizens to 5800 citizens. In this period, some of those who have served the city include: 


John Zeh 


George Schreiber 


James Clay 


Douglas Cleveland 


Paul M Goeglein 


Joseph Schlogel 


E A Lehman 


Earl Fischer 


Ross Brawders 


Robert Gross 


LeRoy Dahnke 


Harry Buerger 


Don Rumary 


William Breitkreutz 


Walter Buske 


Ralph Kriederman 


Don Biederman 


Don Rue 


Dale Renz 


Walter Wegner Jr 


John Marasch 


David Renz 


Shelby Null 


Edward Hoppe 


Wally Chambers 


Robert Rue 


William Lukas 


Ken Heitz 


E Micheal Lehman 


Michael Steinhorst 


Barbara Cutsforth 


Mavis Aumann 


These officers are in addition to those already mentioned. 


With all the complexities of our modern day living, the police department is striving to give the citizens the best of service possible. (This information was taken from the Jefferson Centennial Book 1878- 1978, Gemuetlichkeit Days 1978, By Ross P Brawders.) 


The department’s equipment has been further updated in the 1990’s, with the purchases of semi-automatic pistols for the officers. This is to try to equalize the firepower the officers face in the daily complexities of police work. Also, the department has gone from shotguns as back-up weapons, to semi-automatic rifles. Each squad now had 9mm carbines and later, M16 military rifles. 


The squad cars on patrol were equipped with Mobile Date Terminals (MDT’s), which officers use to contact the Motor Vehicle Department for driver’s license checks and license plate checks. The MDT’s are also used to communicate with the dispatch center on information not broadcast over the radio frequency, eliminating possible interception by use of scanners that are in use today by citizens and criminal elements. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and most police departments in the county are connected by the computers installed in the squads and dispatch centers. 


The Jefferson Police Department has also put into use the Laser Speed Detector for monitoring traffic speeds in the City of Jefferson. In addition to the two marked squads on patrol, the department has a reserve marked squad, the Chief and Captain have a squad vehicle, and there is one for the detective as well. The juvenile officer has a vehicle for use in his D.A.R.E. education program, as he visits each school in the city to educate the students about the dangers associated with drug use. 


Currently the State of Wisconsin requires the candidates for the position of police officer to have a 2- year Police Science Degree, 60 credit hours in the Police Science Degree Program, and to be certified by the State as having completed the Recruit Program. The Recruit Program is an additional 360 hours of training. Upon being hired by a police department, the officer must also be certified in the operation of the radar equipment, know how it works internally, and be capable of calculating the speed of an approaching vehicle. 


First-Aid and CPR training certification was held every 2 years, along with the state required re-certification in the operation of the PBT (alco sensors) and the Intoxilyzer 5000, which is used in the taking of breath samples to determine the blood alcohol content of a person being arrested for operating while intoxicated. The Jefferson Police Department’s primary test is drawing blood in lieu of the Intoxilyzer, which is sent to the State Department of Hygiene for examination to determine the blood alcohol concentration. Blood samples are taken at Countryside Nursing Home and Fort Atkinson Hospital by registered nurses. 


Training in the use of the department’s and officer’s weapons is held monthly. Each officer must be qualified in the use of the weapon he chooses to carry on duty. The officers can carry a 9mm, .40 caliber, or .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol of their choosing. 


Employees of the Jefferson Police Department since approximately 1945 through present are as follows: (Omissions are accidental.) 


Joseph Schlogel, who later transferred to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. 


Walter Buske, who resigned to work for the city at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. 


Donald Biederman 1958-1960, who resigned to go to Green Bay. 


Donald Rumary, Ed Lehman, Parkis Waterbury, LeRoy Dahnke, Ed Fischer, Robert Gross, and Shelby Null were full time officers for 1 year. 


William Brietkreutz started in November of 1955, then left for Florida. He returned 1 year later to replace Harry Buerger in 1960.  


Harry Buerger was a patrolman who was promoted to Sergeant in 1952, and later left for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office where he became the Chief Deputy. 


Ralph Kreiderman started in 1957 and worked as a Lieutenant at the time of his death on July 20, 1970. 


Donald Rue worked as part time in 1960 and was appointed as a Special Investigator on May 1, 1967. 


Dale Renz started on February 15, 1965, and worked with the Jefferson Police Department until he transferred to the Sheriff’s Office on February 1, 1968. Dale Renz transferred back to the Jefferson Police Department on June 29, 1968. He was promoted to Captain on March 1, 1974. 


Jack Marasch started July 26, 1965, and stayed until 1980 when he moved to Eagle River and worked in Minoquoa. 


Walter Wegner started as a part-time officer in 1962. He was hired as a full-time officer on July 1, 1966. He was a Sergeant at the time of his retirement. 


Charles Johnson was appointed Chief of Police in 1969 coming from the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department where he started his career in 1951 after military service. Chief Johnson served as the President of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association in 1978. He retired in 1986. 


Ross Brawders started on June 7, 1951 and was appointed to Captain of police from November of 1963 to January of 1974. 


Edward Hoppe transferred from the Sheriff’s Office to the Jefferson Police Department in 1968. He retired on July 15, 1974. Ed was said to have been the first motorcycle officer in Jefferson County. 


Dave Renz and Waly Chambers resigned in 1972. 


Robert Rue was hired part-time in 1972 and promoted to full-time a few weeks later. 


William Lukas became a full-time officer on August 1, 1972. 


Kenneth Heitz had been employed by both the Sheriff’s Office and the Fort Atkinson Police Department. He transferred to the Jefferson Police Department on July 22, 1974. 


Herb Bloomer started as a part-time officer in 1969 with the Jefferson Police Department 


On February 23, 1976, E Michael Lehman was hired to replace William Lukas, who resigned to go to the Mequon Police Department. 


On November 15, 1976, Michael E. Steinhorst was hired as a patrol officer and Ken Heitz was promoted to Juvenile Officer. Officer Steinhorst was promoted to Sergeant in 1980 to replace Walter Wegner, who retired due to injuries received in a motorcycle accident. A short time later, Captain Renz retired. 


Sergeant Steinhorst was promoted to Captain of Police and was appointed Chief of Police in 2000 upon Chief Besel’s retirement. Officer Jeffrey Langhoff was promoted to lieutenant in 1990 and resigned in 1993. Officer Michael Drew was then promoted to Lieutenant in 1992 (acting) and permanent in 1993. Lieutenant Drew was then promoted to Captain of Police and Officer Dale Lutz was appointed to Lieutenant of Police in 2000. 


In 2005 Chief Steinhorst retired and Detective Gary Bleecker was promoted to Chief of Police. Chief Bleecker had also served with the Village of Johnson Creek Police Department where he was hired as part-time Chief in 2002. Chief Bleecker is credited with bringing body camera videos to the department in 2010 – far ahead of nearly all other agencies. That practice continues to this day. 


Officer Eric Weiss was promoted to the rank of Detective. Chief Bleecker retired in 2014 and Kenneth Pileggi, who had served for 31 years in the Village of Mukwonago and left as a lieutenant, was appointed Chief of Police. Captain Michael Drew retired in 2016. Lieutenant Dale Lutz was promoted to Captain in 2017 and Officer Alan Richter was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2017. Officer Joseph Szwec was also appointed to the rank of lieutenant in 2017. 


All promotions were approved by the Police and Fire Commissioners. 


In 2017 the Jefferson Common Council approved Chief Pileggi to start a Civilian Reserve Officer Program. Chief Pileggi was allowed to hire 6 Civilian Reserve Officers who serve as security and traffic control at various functions. Lieutenant Alan Richter was placed in charge of this unit. 


The department continues to also employ part-time officers (currently funded at 4) and as most agencies in the mid-2010’s struggled to staff for these law enforcement positions. Under Chief Pileggi’s leadership a focus on updating records management technologies, training and developing staff, and a further emphasis and community-police relations was seen. Chief Pileggi introduced the first National Night Out celebration in 2015 which is now an on-going event. The department participates in Coffee with a Cop events, the State of WI Drug Takeback programs including getting a grant for a drug drop box in the police department lobby. The department is involved with the Jefferson County Hispanic Outreach group and takes great pride in being a strong community partner. 


Chief Pileggi reorganized the department chain of command. He created a second lieutenant’s position which made the command structure as follows: Chief of Police, Captain of Police, two Lieutenant’s of Police, a Detective, a civilian Dispatch Supervisor and 9 full time patrol officers. Chief Pileggi assigned the lieutenant’s a rotating shift of 5 days on two days off and five days on three days off just as the officer’s work. Further, the lieutenant’s worked both second shift and an overnight power shift to insure supervision of the night and weekend staff. 


Captain Lutz currently oversees all department operations, Lt. Richter oversees patrol, media release, training and administrative report reviews, Lt. Szwec also oversees patrol and administrative report reviews and is tasked with conducting internal investigations. Lt. Szwec is also currently working on the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group Core Standards certifications (WILEAG). This accreditation is coveted in law enforcement and assures a community that its department is working with model standards that are currently practiced. 


Since post 2011 staffing of all law enforcement agencies has been very challenging for many differing reasons. 


Chief Pileggi has believed in investing a significant amount of money into his command staff and officers. Command staff officers have attended many FBI leadership courses as well as State of Wisconsin leadership courses including the State of Wisconsin Command College (a five-week course) that Lieutenant Richter attended. Captain Drew, prior to his retirement, was also a graduate of this prestigious school. Officers have been training as instructors in Defense and Arrest Tactics, Vehicle Contacts, Firearms training, Taser instructor, Emergency Vehicle Operation and all officers have been trained in Critical Incident Training and Active Shooter training. The Jefferson Police Department has proudly partnered with other County agencies to train all school staff in the Run, Hide, Fight, Notify method of defending the school in the event of an active assailant attack. Further, the City of Jefferson Police Department staff has trained many businesses and corporations in the City regarding these tactics. Officers are now required to attend a 720 hour recruit academy and the department has sponsored several part-time officers in said academy. Officers are then required to successfully completed a three month field training program. 


The Police Department currently offers dispatching services to the public Monday through Friday from 7am to 11pm and Saturdays from 7am to 3pm. In those roles are Dispatcher Mindy Fry and Dispatcher Kelly Cuevas and the officer is overseen by Dispatch Supervisor Leigh-Anne Hauser. Administrative Assistant (part-time) Joyce Kirkvold has served with the department since 2004. After a brief retirement attempt – she came back to work! Also part-time as a Dispatcher is Terry Heinz who is a full-time clerk for the City of Lake Mills Police Department. 


The department currently has nine patrol squads, 4 of which are primary patrol. These squads and the department currently utilizes state of the art equipment to better serve the citizens of Jefferson. 


Chief Pileggi also coined the term “Jefferson’s Guardians” on the squad cars as his belief is that what police officers are. Chief Pileggi introduced the Mission and Vision statement to the department upon appointment along with a Code of Conduct that is incorporated into the department Policies and Procedures.