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Year in Review: Knudson moves into sheriff's role

Former St. Croix County sheriffs Dennis Hillstead (left) and John Shilts (right) share a laugh with Sheriff Scott Knudson after his swearing-in ceremony Thursday, Aug. 3. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia

Editor's note: This story is part of a series recapping the top stories of 2017. Read the other top stories here

The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office saw a significant leadership change in 2017.

Chief among them was the resignation in July of Sheriff John Shilts and the subsequent appointment of his successor, Scott Knudson.

Gov. Scott Walker appointed Knudson, a Somerset resident, who ascended from his No. 2 role as chief deputy to sheriff when he took the oath in August. Knudson will complete Shilts' remaining term, which expires after 2018; he said he will seek election in the fall.

The move brought a reshuffling of administration at the sheriff's office. Knudson appointed former Special Services Division Lt. Cathy Borgschatz to the chief deputy post. Former sheriff's investigative Sgt. Brent Standaert was then promoted to Borgschatz's former position.

Other administrative changes included the promotion of investigator Brandie Hart to sergeant of the investigative unit — the role previously held by Standaert.

Jeff Klatt remains the department's field services captain, while Capt. Dan VanSomeren continues to head jail services. Lt. Jason Sykora continues in his role in the patrol division.

The changes brought to an end the 37-year law enforcement career for Shilts, who began as a New Richmond Police Department reserve officer before working Somerset police. He went to work for the sheriff's department in 1987 and rose through the ranks there — from jailer to patrol officer to drug investigator and on into administration.

Shilts has since taken a job with the state's justice department in its Training and Standards Bureau, where he works as a compliance team field representative.

Stepping into St. Croix County's top role is Knudson, a 1990 Somerset High School graduate who received law enforcement certification in 1995 from Chippewa Valley Technical College before going to work with the sheriff's office the following year. Before serving as chief deputy, Knudson was the sheriff's department's patrol captain.

He said he's pleased, not just with the administrative transition, but across the department as it continues to evolve.

"I continue to be impressed by the dedication and quality of deputies that I've been very fortunate to work with," Knudson said Dec. 21.

Moving into 2018, he said the department will add a sharper focus on crimes like online predators, human trafficking and cybercrimes.

"We want to keep up with what's affecting the community," Knudson said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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