By Troy Wolbersen, Douglas County sheriff
Another deer hunting season has come to a close for me. I’ve got some new hunting stories and meat in the freezer.
While I’m in my deer stand enjoying my time in the outdoors, I do a lot of thinking. I think about all kinds of things like my family, cool hunting equipment I should invent, and work of course. This year I thought a lot about retirement. Not my own retirement, but the retirements of the many friends and partners I have had in my 30-plus years of law enforcement. With each retirement, I always feel two emotions. I feel happiness for the retiree that they have survived and completed a successful career and sadness that we will no longer be working together. I won’t name all that have retired, but each person has had an impact on who I am today. The one person I will name isn’t retired quite yet.
Captain Jackie Notch and I have worked together for 33 years. At the end of 2020, Jackie will retire. I think back to when we were beginning our careers together, and I can’t believe how quickly the years have passed. In the late 1980s, there were not a lot of women in law enforcement, especially in this part of Minnesota. Jackie became the first female licensed peace officer hired as a deputy sheriff to work for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. I cannot imagine the additional pressure that may have put on her in this male dominated profession, but I know it did not stop her from having a long and successful career.
Jackie got her career rolling working patrol as a deputy sheriff, and after a few years, she became Sergeant Jackie Notch. Not one to back away from challenges, Jackie’s accomplishments began to accumulate. She trained as a public safety diver and served as a member of our dive and rescue team for many years. The SWAT team needed a negotiator, and Jackie stepped forward to train for that role. She has been part of bringing many volatile situations to a peaceful resolution with her abilities to communicate and think on her feet and received a statewide award recognizing those abilities.
Jackie has also taught many young people as a DARE officer for our office. Years later, students that are now adults and also school staff remember her and talk about the impact she had on them. Jackie not only taught young students, she served as a Field Training Officer (FTO) for our office and trained and mentored new deputies as they began their careers. Jackie was also assigned for a few years as an investigator for our office solving crimes and working with victims. Her commitment to helping domestic/family violence victims has made a difference in victims’ lives and for our community.
In 2007, I made one of the best decisions of my career when I selected Jackie to become Jail Administrator (Captain) Jackie Notch. By this time, Jackie had proven she was a very capable leader, manager and mentor. She hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since. Jackie has managed the facility and led the staff through many different changes, which includes the designing and building of a new jail and creating policies and procedures on how to best operate it. She runs a tight ship, and I think the jail looks better today than the day we opened it. Jackie has built strong relationships with jail administrators throughout Minnesota and once again, her efforts and abilities were recognized when she received the statewide award for “Jail Administrator of the Year.”
Jackie has a life outside of work where she is involved in the community, has many friendships and she is the mother of two daughters. She has been able to balance her career with her personal life and raised her daughters to be independent young women.
Jackie has made me a better sheriff and person. Our friendship and work relationship has stood the test of time. She has made a difference for this office, our community and me. While I was in my deer stand thinking about Jackie’s upcoming retirement, I felt both happy and sad and wondered what the future holds for her. That might be a story for next year!
Troy Wolbersen is the Douglas County sheriff. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.