In our new weekly 12 Rounds feature, leaders will answer 12 questions – some light, some heavy – from our editor and CEO Henry Sanders to help the community understand them, what they’re doing, and why. Today: Dane County Sheriff Kalvin barrett.
Prior to being appointed Dane County Sheriff and assuming office on May 8, Barrett served as Dane County Deputy Sheriff from 2009-2011, Sun Prairie Police Department officer from 2011-2016, and Law Enforcement Officer. order at Wisconsin State Fair Park. He taught law enforcement and criminal justice at Madison College, where he was the faculty director of the criminal justice studies program. He was also a consultant on workplace violence and active threat response. He recently announced an election campaign for a full term next year.
What advice would you give to a person of color, not from Wisconsin, who is considering moving to Madison? They should take advantage of summer, spring and fall and prepare for winter. Find a strong group of friends who have similar interests and explore Dane County. Invest in our future generations by volunteering to work with our youth; They need us. There are many community groups across the county that are doing a great job in our communities, and they need our help. Finally, be prepared for construction delays to and from commuting.
Then I would take the opportunity to find out where they came from, where they are now (in their life) and where they want life to lead them in the future. Then encourage them to visit teamdane.com and apply to become a Dane County Sheriff’s Office Assistant and serve the Dane County community by my side (taken). It is imperative that our sheriff’s office reflects the diverse communities we serve. Their personal and professional experiences as a person of color are needed in the ranks of our sheriff’s office. We need diverse perspectives when we examine policies, procedures, work rules, promotions, hiring, programs, discipline and terminations.
Name three songs that reflect exactly how you feel.
- The change will come from Sam Cooke
- Good Man by India Arie
- His Eye is on the Sparrow by any gospel choir
If you could go back in time to any point in life to tell yourself something, at what age would you go back and what would you say to yourself? I would come back in 1995 when I was 12. My father passed away suddenly and he was everything to me. I was lost and learning how to replace his love, leadership and wisdom. I wanted to be the necessary leader for my mother and my two year old sister. I would tell myself I would be fine, and being successful doesn’t mean I have to be perfect. I have to learn from my mistakes, think before I speak, and not let my ability to reason be the first victim of my emotions.
What did you learn about yourself in 2020? The year 2020 has reaffirmed that my family is an essential aspect of my life. They are the foundation and inspiration for all the positive work I do in our communities. In 2020 the whole world came to a standstill and our family found themselves learning more about each other than ever before.
I have also learned that our communities and professions need us as leaders more than ever. I learned that my life and professional experiences were essential for success as a criminal justice professional. The Lord has a plan for me, and although I don’t always understand his vision and plan, I can feel him leading me toward a destiny of greatness.
At this point in your life, do you feel like you’ve found your purpose? If so, how did you find your goal? I feel like I have found my goal at this point in my life, but I haven’t reached my goal yet. I feel like every moment of my life was in preparation for this opportunity to be named 53rd Dane County Sheriff. Although I have achieved a goal I set for myself many years ago, I know there is a ton of work to be done and my date is the start of my journey. I am well aware of the responsibility that weighs on my shoulders. Yet I graciously accept the responsibility, for I have a burning inner passion to serve my community and my profession with dignity, respect and reliability.
There are a lot of divisions around race issues in politics. What can we do to learn from these divisions? I think we need to use the tragic incidents that are happening in our state and our country to fuel our efforts and be the catalyst for the change we all want to see. Our voices are powerful and our experiences influence our view of local, state and federal politics. With the growing number of black and brown elected officials in our state, we have access to their expertise and support. We can use their advice to strengthen our own networks of success.
Why is it important for people of color to be part of law enforcement? People of color need to be in law enforcement because we have different personal and professional backgrounds. These experiences allow us to bring a unique perspective to a profession that has been found to be statistically devoid of diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identification.
OutKast or the roots? This is the hardest question I have had as a sheriff! Oukast by a hair.
What are you doing to stay healthy mentally, physically and spiritually? My mental, physical and spiritual well-being plays an important role in creating a healthy balance in my personal and professional life. To maintain my sanity, I have several practices that help me. First of all, I set aside time each day for a one-on-one conversation with my wife Kate and my mother Teresa. They are my best friends, my most trusted confidants and my best campaign advisers. Second, I start each day with an entry in my gratitude journal. The journal entry keeps me focused on all the great blessings I have in my life. Third, I take a walk at the end of each day to reflect on my performance as a sheriff, husband, father, and community leader.
To maintain my physical health, I try to exercise at least three times a week. My exercise includes racquetball, the LES MILLS Sprint class, and basket shooting with my daughters.
I maintain my spiritual health by keeping a close relationship with my Lord and Savior. I read a daily 4 minute spiritual devotion given to me by my mother. As a family, we attend Christ The Solid Rock Baptist Church and receive the Word of my friend and mentor, Reverend Everett Mitchell.
Name your favorite things that you missed in the 90s? I miss the R&B music that invaded the 90s when we were young. I don’t want to disrespect our current R&B musicians. Still, Miguel and Trey Songz have nothing on Jodeci, Mint Condition or Mary J. Blige.
How can you, as a sheriff, help rebuild trust with communities of color. I will restore trust with our communities of color by being accessible, honest and present. I can’t control what goes on in other law enforcement agencies in the United States, BUT I control what goes on in the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. We (Dane County Sheriff’s Office) will collectively continue to rebuild fractured relationships and strengthen already established relationships, one conversation, one crisis, a handshake and a hug all at once.
If you could quote one famous quote that inspires you the most, which would it be? “I had people who encouraged me, not just my mom and grandparents, but also wonderful teachers and community leaders, and they pushed me to work hard, study hard, and get the best of myself. . And if I didn’t listen, they would repeat it. And if I didn’t listen, they would repeat it a third time. And they would give me second and third chances. They never abandoned me, and therefore I did not abandon myself. – Barack Obama