Big shoes to fill: New Brown County sheriff talks transition

Todd Delain of the Brown County Sheriff's Office (WBAY file photo)
Todd Delain of the Brown County Sheriff's Office (WBAY file photo)(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 7, 2019 at 5:35 PM CST
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Monday marked the beginning of a new era at the Brown County Sheriff's Office as Sheriff Todd Delain became the 56th person to be the county's top cop.

The sheriff says the successes of the past will help build a safer community in the future.

"I don't really think it's necessary to make drastic changes. If there were drastic changes that needed to be made, we would have made them already, so it's just sort of building upon the things that we're doing very well," says Sheriff Todd Delain.

And that's why Delain doesn't think the community will notice a big change as he takes over as Brown County Sheriff.

He wants to continue the same public safety the agency has worked years to maintain, especially in protecting victims of human trafficking and internet crimes against children.

The department has become a statewide leader in investigating those two kinds of crimes in the last several years.

Under Sheriff Delain also comes a new push to keep trouble out of neighborhoods by mapping crimes.

"Crime analysis and moving in that direction to better utilize our resources and have a better understanding where crime is occurring," explains Delain.

But with a new role admittedly comes nerves.

"I guess I'm nervous," Delain says, "because they are such big shoes to fill."

That would be the shoes of now retired Sheriff John Gossage, who led the agency the last eight years, but wore a Brown County badge for more than 31.

"I was just a young kid coming out of school and just wanted to make a difference," says Gossage.

In his last official duty as sheriff a few days before retirement, Gossage swore in one new deputy and promoted another, adding to a law enforcement family that gets him choked up when he thinks about leaving.

"It's not just me though. It's the team of people that we put together, our captains, our division heads, and sending that message that we're a law enforcement family," says Gossage.

His staff lined the parking lot, creating a makeshift tunnel to say thank you and goodbye, in an emotional send off on his final day.

As Gossage reflects on his career, a few cases and initiatives stand out, from starting the ICAC unit to finding justice for families of murder victims, especially Nicole VanderHeyden.

"Coming to a good resolve to that case, I think that was very important," he says.

As for what's next for Gossage?

He says some golf and a honey-do list thirty-some years in the making should keep him busy for now.

"I'm very blessed that I was able to have a long career with the sheriff's office, and I'm very humbled to be able to do it," he adds, growing emotional.

As much as technology has changed and will continue to, both Gossage and Delain agree, communication and hard work won't change.