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Dispatcher enters sheriff race

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River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

An emergency dispatch center worker and former police chief has announced his candidacy for St. Croix County sheriff.

Jim S. Jackson, a New Richmond Democrat, is challenging incumbent Dennis Hillstead, a Republican, for the four-year term.

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Jackson, 45, currently works as a tele-communicator in the St. Croix County Emergency Dispatch Center. He previously worked in the Eau Claire emergency dispatch center and was police chief for the village of Fairchild. He also served as a lieutenant in the Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department Reserve and was chief of the Fairchild rescue and emergency medical services department.

Jackson holds an associate degree in police science from Chippewa Valley Technical College and has extended training in law enforcement and emergency medical services.

"I've always had an interest in being a sheriff. I'm chasing a dream," said Jackson of his decision to run. His father was an Eau Claire city police officer.

Apart from personal goals, Jackson believes he has the aggressiveness and foresight to find the funds to equip squad cars with modern technology and enable officers to more effectively fight methamphetamine and other drug problems.

"I feel there's a need for change," said Jackson. He said the current Sheriff's Department is "not even close to what it should be for this area."

Jackson said deputies aren't supplied with the equipment and in-depth training they need to do their jobs in an increasingly urban area.

He said the department is just starting to equip its squad cars with video cameras and in-car computers -- technology they should have had long ago.

Jackson said there are state and federal grants to pay for such equipment, but local officials have to apply for it.

"They're not aggressive enough going after the monies that are out there," said Jackson of Sheriff's Department administrators. "There's money available, but you have to go after it and fight for it."

He also promises to restore accountability to the sheriff's position.

"I was appalled at the $7.2 million lawsuit that we're still paying for," said Jackson of the jail strip-search lawsuit and what he believes were inadequate consequences for supervisors, including the sheriff.

"When you're the boss, it's your fault," said Jackson.

He said that in his job as "an outsider that's an insider," he hears of and notices things that should be changed.

Some improvements he proposes are closer working relationships with local police departments and cutting routine paperwork on minor incidents so deputies can spend more time patrolling.

"Meth is a huge issue," said Jackson. "(Dealing with it) starts on the street. It starts with your patrol deputies."

Other improvements are as simple as supplying deputies with blaze orange coveralls for use during deer hunting season.

"So if they do have to trudge in the woods, they've not trudging in the woods in brown (uniforms)."

"They're not lacking in intelligence," said Jackson of the department's deputies. "They're not lacking in enthusiasm. They need the tools to do the job."

Jackson, who is trained as a K-9 handler and had his own K-9 dog, said he'd like to have at least three of the dogs -- one for each shift.

"They are an indispensable tool for law enforcement," he said.

Jackson married New Richmond native Patricia J. Marson. He has five children, ages 7-21, and three step-children, ages 16-25.

He is a member of the New Life Family Church, the New Richmond Hockey Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

For more information about Jackson's candidacy, go to www.jacksonforsheriff.com.

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