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Veronica Koehler: NRPD’s second-in-command

New Richmond Police Department Lt. Veronica Koehler. (Contributed photograph)

Koehler looking forward to working with community

Twelve-year New Richmond Police Department veteran Veronica Koehler was recently promoted to department lieutenant, taking over the second-in-command position that was most recently held by now-department Chief Craig Yehlik.

A native of Turtle Lake, Koehler has worked her way up through both the education and department ranks, having graduated from Turtle Lake High School before moving on to attend WITC and eventually earning an Associate Degree in Police Science from Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire in 2001. She completed the Police Recruit Program from CVTC in June 2001 and started working part-time as a police officer. It was at that time that she decided to continue her education — attending UW-Stout for vocational rehabilitation with a concentration in corrections. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in December 2003 and

was hired by the NRPD as a full-time officer in 2004.

“I worked patrol until I was promoted to detective in the summer of 2008. I worked all types of cases as a detective until I was promoted to lieutenant,” she said. “My duties will include being the direct supervisor for the detectives to include assigning cases and helping to organize investigations.

“I conduct background checks and assist the chief with the budget. As time goes on I will no longer have a detective case load which will allow me to take on additional responsibilities that the sergeants have recently taken on in the transition of Chief Yehlik. This will free the sergeants up to patrol more and assist the officers on their shifts.”

Koehler also said her on-the-ground training has prepared her well to be a department leader.

And it’s that experience that the officers within the department turn to.

“I still field lots of questions from patrol [officers], but we don’t have a lot years experience on patrol right now,” Koehler said. “Many are with fewer than five years. Part of my job is to help them with what they need.”

The need to be in touch with the officers on the road requires daily contact. “We have contact every day,” she said. With a flexible schedule, Koehler said that working with officers on all shifts is possible. It’s also that open communication that has provided a new working environment in the office. “That’ something that’s been a real positive the past few months,” she said.

It’s also her experience as a patrol officer and detective that has provided Koehler with deep understanding of the various duties required by all officers.

She admits that there were many things she has learned through the years.

“I learned a lot over the years and a lot of it was just how to deal with people; knowing what worked and what didn’t work,” Koehler said. “As I moved through my career and found what worked and what didn’t, I adjusted. So far, being a lieutenant is a lot different from being a detective.”

Looking back, Koehler said her decision to become a law enforcement officer is based on the reasons why all become officers: To help people.

“That’s genuine,” she said. “The thing that pushed me to be more involved in getting an education was the fact you are doing something different every day. I worked in factory in the past, and didn’t want to spent the rest of my working career doing the same thing every day.”

Upon being hired by the New Richmond department, Koehler’s goal was to be a detective and when she achieved that goal four years into her career, she thought that’s what she would be doing for a long time.

When the lieutenant’s job came available, it wasn’t Koehler’s initial thought to apply.

But after discussing it with her family and husband, it became clear that she couldn’t go wrong. So she threw her hat into the ring.

“When things started to change here I felt that being in a leadership role would be a good thing,” Koehler said. “My husband has always been supportive. He pushed me to get a bachelor degree. We had a long discussion about it and we both thought I couldn’t go wrong.”

With a bit more than one month under her belt as lieutenant, Koehler said she is looking forward to the future and the possibilities.

“I look forward to working closely with Chief Yehlik to develop community programs and moving this department forward,” she said. “I feel like the department is moving in a positive direction and am excited to be part of it. I encourage community members to contact our department with concerns about different areas in the city.

“If we don’t have the communication with the citizens we don’t always know where there are issues or concerns or what they are, but understand that we can’t be everywhere all the time so we ask for patience. If you see an officers out patrolling you can always express your concerns about issues within the community. We need to work together to make this a safer community.”