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Colfax hires new police chief

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has hired a new police chief.

Following a closed session March 11, the village board agreed to offer the position to Charlie DeLorge, and Jackie Ponto, administrator-clerk-treasurer, confirmed on the afternoon of March 12 that DeLorge had accepted the position.

DeLorge, who is a Colfax resident, is employed at the Chippewa County Courthouse and also part-time with the New Auburn Police Department and the Colfax Police Department.

He will replace Colfax Police Chief Pete Gehring upon his retirement in April.

DeLorge will be starting full-time as the Colfax police chief on March 24 with a beginning annual salary of $41,600, which works out to be $20 per hour.

In December, the Colfax Village Board approved a salary range of $41,000 to $52,000 annually for the new police chief.

In addition to salary, benefits of 18 percent of the salary are paid into the Wisconsin retirement system and $900 per month is paid into a health savings account.

Village board members agreed at the December meeting that the wages should range from $20 to $25 per hour for the new police chief, depending upon experience and qualifications.

All together, the Village of Colfax received 35 applications for the police chief position.

Many of the applications were from Wisconsin but also from as far away as Dansville, New York and Miami, Florida, Ponto said.

The list of 35 applicants initially was narrowed to eight. The village board selected four of those for the first round of interviews and then narrowed the pool to three applicants before selecting DeLorge.

“Obviously, experience is important for the village but we were also looking for someone who would be able to effectively communicate with all ages, have a fresh look on issues in the village, and also be able to maintain our close-knit community perspective,” said Scott Gunnufson, village president.

“We were also looking for someone passionate about law enforcement and who could not only oversee the current direction of the police department but also help create new programs and initiatives as our village moves forward,” he said.

“Charlie delivers a lot of those aspects and delivers them with such an enthusiastic approach it becomes infectious to everyone around him. We are confident that he will be fully engaged in the community and drive a lot of great vision for the village police department,” Gunnufson said.

“As he makes his transition into his role, we are fortunate to be getting great knowledge from Chief Gehring as he heads to retirement in April. On behalf of the village, administration, and the board, we thank (Chief Gehring) for many great years of service,” he said.

Police Chief Gehring will retire with 43 years of experience in law enforcement. When he began his duties in Colfax, he had already served as a police chief for nine years.

When asked for comments on the hiring of a new police chief, Police Chief Gehring said, “Charlie DeLorge came into my office about nine months ago and said he wanted to be a police officer and that someday he would be the Chief of Police in Colfax. He came to work in Colfax because of his energy, enthusiasm, and passion for the law enforcement field. I suspect the village board chose him as the next police chief for the same reasons. I wish him luck in his future career.”

After Police Chief DeLorge has gotten his feet wet and has been on the job for a few weeks, the Colfax Messenger will interview him for a profile story.