Alumni have had successful careers in law enforcement

Former state patrol chief, prison warden, officers reflect on careers predating UW-Stout’s criminal justice major
​Jerry Poling | October 28, 2019

In nearly 25 years, J.D. Lind held every position with the Wisconsin State Patrol. He served in all five regions of the state and capped his career as superintendent for two years, retiring in October 2018.

Lind is one of many graduates of University of Wisconsin-Stout who have had successful careers in the law enforcement field.

J.D. Lind, retired State Patrol superintendentThey have done it despite not having the benefit of going through the university’s criminal justice and rehabilitation major, which started in 2014. The university is hosting its second annual conference on criminal justice on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Lind said he “absolutely loved” being a state trooper — helping capture a murderer and saving several lives on his most memorable days.

As State Patrol superintendent appointed by the governor, he developed a new strategic plan for the agency with 650 employees, among other improvements. “It’s a big responsibility, no doubt. You’re the appointing authority, hiring, budget, discipline,” he said. “The State Patrol is steeped in a long tradition of excellence.”

In retirement, he leads the chamber of commerce in Cable, near his hometown of Bayfield.

A 1988 graduate in marketing and business education, Lind was a high school teacher for five years before entering the State Patrol academy. “College was hugely beneficial for me from an education and experience standpoint, and it opened a tremendous number of doors in law enforcement.”

Other UW-Stout alumni in the field include police chiefs, a prison warden and a police officer.

Joel Clapero, Hayward police chief, with his sonsHayward police chief

As police chief in Hayward in northwestern Wisconsin, Joel Clapero says, “What I really love, and I know it sounds kind of cliché, but it’s a job where you get to help and serve people. I like being part of the solution. It’s been great seeing how people come together when bad things happen.”

Clapero has been on the Hayward staff for almost 20 years and has been chief since 2010. He oversees seven officers in a community of 2,300 that often swells to 10,000 or more during summer tourism season and for big year-round events.

After serving in the Marines for four years then finishing a police academy, he earned a psychology degree in 2003, helping prepare him for the rigors of his position. “Our job is dealing with people, and often there’s a mental health component,” he said.

Clapero’s Hayward experience reminds him of UW-Stout. “Stout seemed like a small community. You knew where to go to get help,” he said.

Judy P. Smith, retired Oshkosh Correctional Institution wardenOshkosh prison warden

Leading Wisconsin’s largest correctional institution in Oshkosh was a big job — about 2,000 inmates, 600 employees, many recidivism programs, 7,000 meals a day — but not too big for Judy P. Smith.

The 1978 alumna, in vocational rehabilitation, did it for more than 22 years, retiring Feb. 1. She was the longest-serving female warden and second longest-serving warden in state history. Earlier this year she received a state award for her nearly 40 years in the field.

Her corrections career began at Waupun assessing new inmates. “These are people who obviously had made major mistakes but wanted to do something different with their life. I wanted to help guide them toward that path. When I moved into a management position I helped develop programs so they did have a better chance at being successful,” she said.

What was her secret to success? “If you do your job well and people see you care, the rest kind of falls into place. There’s a saying: Be firm, fair and consistent.”

Rice Lake police officer

Heather Wolfe, Rice Lake police officerSexual predators are running into a wolf in northwestern Wisconsin — Officer Heather Wolfe of the Rice Lake Police Department. The six-year veteran has overseen operations leading to more than a dozen arrests of adults preying online on minors. She recently received a state investigator of the year award for her work.

Now that I’m a mother, the undercover child enticement cases really mean a lot more to me. We need to protect the children of the community. We’re taking those type of predators off the street,” said Wolfe, who received special training from the Internet Crimes Against Children federal program.

Wolfe earned a psychology degree in 2009 then attended a police academy. She “loved the Stout experience” and loves her work. “Rice Lake has an awesome community. It’s pro-enforcement, and we do a lot of community events,” she said.

S. Beloit police chief

Adam Truman, South Beloit, Ill., police chiefPeople could argue that Adam Truman’s 1999 college degree, in hospitality and tourism, is the opposite of the field he eventually chose. Yet, as police chief in South Beloit, Ill., a city of 8,000 across the border from sister city Beloit, Wis., population 37,000, he could counter that his work is making the area a better place to visit.

“My education at Stout helped me get this job. A lot of classes were geared toward management. You can apply that to so much more than the hospitality industry,” said Truman, who changed career paths soon after graduating then earned a master’s in criminal justice in 2016 from UW-Platteville. “We really try hard to have positive public relations.”

Truman has been on the South Beloit staff since 2001. He graduated from the FBI academy in 2012 and was named chief in April. “I like dealing with the public as well as the administrative work. I get to do both,” he said.



J.D. Lind, retired State Patrol superintendent

Joel Clapero, Hayward police chief, with his sons

Judy P. Smith, retired Oshkosh Correctional Institution warden

Heather Wolfe, Rice Lake police officer

Adam Truman, South Beloit, Ill., police chief

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