Sheldon, Iowa — A man who has been protecting and serving the citizens of Sheldon for more than 30 years has decided to call it a quits.
Sheldon Police Officer Brian Wielenga has announced his retirement, effective August 1st of this year. As of this moment, Sheldon City Manager Sam Kooiker says the Sheldon Police Department is fully staffed, but that will change when Wielenga retires.
(As above) “Officer Wielenga has served the City since October of 1988. He is currently the second longest serving officer on the current force. We are currently fully staffed, we have seven officers, including our chief.”
Although the Sheldon Police Department is at full strength, the’re dealing with workload issues, and Kooiker says there has been talk of adding an eighth officer.
(As above) “We’re dealing with workload issues, of course, as well. One of the things that I have mentioned to the City Council, earlier this year, is looking at the idea of an additional FTE. We weren’t prepared to do that for this current budget cycle, but it’s something that we are planning to bring up in the budget workshops this winter.”
The last time the Sheldon Police Department had an opening for a full-time officer, the position was filled by one of the department’s reserve, or part-time, officers. Kooiker says this time we don’t have the luxury of having someone ready in that pipeline.
(As above) “We do not. Our remaining reservist, Krista Bousema, is moving over to Hawarden and we’re unable to keep her, unfortunately. We’ve really appreciated having her, and we had certainly hoped that she would be in the wings to become a full-time officer, or at least explore that idea when the opening came up.”
Despite the fact that there are no reserve officers available to move into full-time status, Kooiker says the City does have a “very short list” of applications gathered during the last opening, earlier this year.
(As above) “We do have a short list, it’s actually a VERY short list, that we had developed earlier this year when we did a round of testing. Right now there’s only one name on that list, and so we’re in the process of discussing and interviewing that person to see if they’re still interested. And we’ll find out soon.”
The Sheldon City Council is in the process of relaxing residency requirements for police officers, and Kooiker says he believes that will assist in recruiting future cops.
(As above) “It’s something that needs to be looked at, as well, and we believe that will increase the pool. Once that is opened up we’ll be looking at another round of testing and developing another list, because we do expect more retirements next year.”
With Sheldon’s only remaining reserve officer leaving the community, we asked Kooiker if the City is casting an eye toward rebuilding the reserve unit.
(As above) “There is. Our new chief, Scott Burtch, has been looking at the Reserve Program, and it needs a bit of revamping and review. But that is something that he’s looking at.”
Wielenga will be the third Sheldon Police Officer to retire from the department since last summer. Officer Scott DeGoei’s last day on the force was June 30, 2019. DeGoei’s position was filled when Officer Eric Meineke left the reserves to become a full-time officer. Chief Lyle Bolkema retired in November 2019, and was replaced by current Chief Scott Burtch.
Another officer, Jett Korver, left the Sheldon Police Department this past February to become an O’Brien County Sheriff’s Deputy. Korver’s slot was filled by Officer Tim Loeschen who had previously been one of Sheldon’s reserve officers.