DE PERE — After recently completing his first full year as De Pere's chief of police, Jeremy Muraski reflected on his role in the community and the challenges he's noticed in the area after more than two decades working in law enforcement in Northeast Wisconsin.
As a nearly 25 years veteran in law enforcement, Muraski has seen plenty of change. He says as police chief he's noticed how recruiting new officers has evolved.
"We've really gotten better at being more wholeheartedly professional. It's not just about the action and excitement, and there can definitely be that, but now you need other softer skills. You need the ability to communicate, to deescalate, basically resolve conflict," said Muraski.
Muraski says that he believes constant community engagement through events help strengthen relationships and will continue to be key in ensuring trust.
"We don't want to push our policing agenda on the community. We want to respond to what it is the community's looking for us to do," said Muraski.
While Muraski has worked to build community trust and recruit officers in his first year as chief, he says one of the biggest issues law enforcement faces regionwide is the spread of opioids.
"You start to realize the scope and scale of things, especially when it starts to accelerate rapidly. We've seen fentanyl just exploding in our area and, you know De Pere's not immune to that, De Pere's a wonderful community, but we have the same issues that other communities our size and neighbors do," said Muraski.
All of De Pere's officers are now trained in Narcan usage in case they need to respond to a call in the community, or one of the officers gets exposed to the substance during testing.
"For me as a chief, my biggest fear is that I'm going to lose an officer, or that I'm gonna lose a citizen to a fentanyl overdose. That and the prevalence of it is what kind of keeps me up at night," said Muraski.
He says that despite crime in the city rising slightly since the height of the pandemic, it's in line with De Pere's pre-pandemic numbers. As he looks ahead to his second full year, he says he believes the department is ready to handle a growing city.