Name: Tom Gunderson

Age: 46

Hometown: River Falls

Occupation: Patrol Sergeant, Pierce County Sheriff's Department

Family: Wife Liz, daughters, Megan, a sophomore at UW-Stout, and Molly, a senior at River Falls High School

Education: 1982 River Falls High School graduate, 1982-'87, UW-River Falls, sociology, 2007-'09, Bachelor of Science in criminal justice at UW-Platteville, 2009-present, Masters in criminal justice administration at UW-Platteville

Besides being on-the-job with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Tom Gunderson has gone back to school in the interest of furthering himself in his chosen profession.

Since 2007, the River Falls native has studied at UW-Platteville, finishing his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and, from last year on, working toward his Masters degree in criminal justice administration.

"When I went back to school, I broadened my view of law enforcement," said Gunderson, now a patrol sergeant who's a candidate for county sheriff in the Tuesday, Nov. 2, general election.

"With my training, and based on my experience with the department, I feel I can offer the citizens of this county a department that's both efficient and effective," added the 25-plus year veteran, first hired part-time in 1984, advancing to full-time a year later, and being the K-9 officer, a member of the tactical team, a firearms instructor and dispatcher/jailer at various times since then.

One area in which he wants to emphasize efficiency and effectiveness is the dispatch center and jail, he said. Staffing levels there need to be reevaluated, he believes.

"911 is the lifeline to every citizen, while every officer, EMS responder and fire fighter relies on it, too," he said.

The center's staffing should be such that it meets or exceeds the community's needs, he said. Presently, three dispatcher/jailers are typically on duty and he praises all of these officers for the quality work they perform.

However, if a jail incident occurs, two of those personnel respond for safety reasons, which can leave one at dispatch, he said. An incoming 911 call requiring an outside matter--ranging from traffic accidents to medical emergencies--to be handled, closely followed by a second call, means the facility can become overloaded. The regular phone line is also answered there, he reminded.

For more please read the Oct. 20 print version of the Herald.