BROWN DEER - After 27 years with the Brown Deer Police Department, Capt. Robert Halverson worked his last shift on Monday, April 3.
In a conversation on his last day in office, Halverson said the best part of his job was the relationships he has formed over the years.
"The highlight of my career was the people I was able to work with. They're professional, they're highly skilled and they're highly motivated," he said. "I'm gonna miss the people that I worked with here in the department and in the other law enforcement agencies I've had the privilege of working with in the North Shore, the FBI, the (Drug Enforcement Agency), the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and the Milwaukee Police Department."
Halverson grew up in Madison and after graduating from La Follette High School, enlisted in the Army National Guard. He started as a chemical warfare officer and eventually reached the rank of military police captain. During his time in the National Guard, he spent two years working with drug support operations, which meant supporting the DEA and sheriff's departments on drug cases. After that assignment, he worked part-time for an ambulance company in Janesville and the town of Delavan Police Department.
Halverson joined the Brown Deer Police Department in 1990, starting out as a patrol officer. During his time with the department, Halverson earned a bachelor's degree with honors in criminal justice from American Military University. He was also involved in creating the department’s current field training program, sat on a state advisory group to equip first responders with chemical response equipment and created the department’s respiratory protection policies.
He was promoted to lieutenant in 1997, and in 2010, he was promoted to captain. He commanded the operations division for three years and the support services division for two years. He served as interim chief after the retirement of former Chief Steven Rinzel in 2014.
Brown Deer Police Chief Michael Kass said Halverson was helpful in getting him acquainted with the community, the employees in the police department and other regional police officials when he was first hired
"I think he brought a very firm leadership style to the department," Kass said. "He knew the course of direction the department needed to go, and he always followed through on making sure the goals and the mission of the department were met."
Brown Deer has changed a lot in his 27 years on the job, Halverson said. The village has new subdivisions and new businesses, both of which have been positive for the community. He also said the village has seen an increase in crime, mostly from people outside of Brown Deer.
"We've had more serious crimes than we did 27 years ago. Even in the past five years, they have been more significant," Halverson said. "We've become a lot busier, and Milwaukee has become a lot busier. It's just a more violent culture today with more violent offenders that are a lot younger in age."
The work of the police department has also changed from a technology standpoint.
"When I started here, we had one computer in the department," Halverson recalled. "Now we all have computers, and the squads all have computers. The technology has just exploded. They didn't teach that when I was in police academy."
The Brown Deer Village Board approved a resolution of appreciation for Halverson on March 20. A retirement party was held March 24, bringing together Brown Deer residents and police officials from across the North Shore together to celebrate Halverson's contributions to the department. At the event, Kass presented Halverson with a "meritorious service award of excellence," which Halverson said was one of the highest honors of his career.
"It's been my honor to serve alongside you for the past two and a half years," Kass said in presenting Halverson with the award. "You've earned my friendship and admiration, but more importantly, you've earned the admiration of your peers, the respect of your subordinates and the thanks from the community in which you serve."
In his retirement, Halverson said he would like to teach for a criminal justice program and "give back to the system that gave to me for many years."
"As I think about the last 27 years here, the word that comes to my mind is gratitude," he said. "I'm grateful to this community for giving me a career here for the last 27 years."
Halverson will be replaced by Lt. Jonathan Schmitz, who assumed the captain position on April 3. Schmitz, who graduated from Brown Deer High School, has been with the Brown Deer Police Department for 19 years.