Middleton Police Chief Retires

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
MTT News's picture
Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–Middleton Police Chief Charles Foulke, 63, retires after a 38 year career in the department serving many roles and the last five and a half as chief. Foulke looks back at his career and shares what he’ll be doing after his last day on Dec. 13.

Foulke says he went to UW Madison expecting to end up in law school, but was inspired by his professors to get into criminal justice. 

In the summer of 1980 Foulke took on a criminal justice internship in Middleton going into senior year. 

Having always lived in Madison and never spending much time in Middleton, he realized he really liked the community. After graduating he felt fortunate to get offered a position at Middleton Police Department.

Foulke says he and his wife grew up moving around a lot and expected they would be the same, but it turned out they both found jobs they loved and saw the area as a great place to stay for their kids. 

He says he served so many different roles in the department over the years that things never got stale. Foulke stills loves the job but says he realized it was a good time to retire after passing landmarks in the department and his personal life.

The flooding event and active shooter at Paradigm in 2018 put a lot of stress on the department, Foulke says. After hitting the year anniversary in September Foulke says it feels like the department is moving on. Foulke adds the death of officer Katie Barrios earlier this year from cancer was also a hardship for the department. 

In his personal life his sister passed away unexpectedly and his wife was hospitalized for two weeks from a burst appendix.

“That stuff showed me things can change on a dime, but Robin is healthy, I’m healthy, now is probably a good time to leave, and I think we are in good shape organizationally,” Foulke says. “My wife and I have our health and we want to do some other things.”

Foulke would feel obligated to stay at the department if the things were different. 

“When I became the chief I was given the keys to a Cadillac, I’d like to think I am also handing the keys to a Cadillac to the next person,” Foulke explainss. “I don’t think I screwed things up too badly.”

Foulke says while he plans to travel more in retirement, his home will always be the Madison area and he will remain active in his volunteer and advocacy work. Foulke has advocated for ‘common sense’ guns laws including universal background checks.

“We are going to be here and we are going to be involved,” Foulke states.

Foulke is testifying to the state legislature calling on them to extend worker compensation benefits to public safety employees for post-traumatic stress injuries. He says it is too hard right now for officers to get the help they need after experiencing trauma. 

Foulke points out the more officers die at their own hands that at the hands of others. 

“We lose more officers from suicide than from felonious assaults nationwide and that’s wrong.”

The concern for officer wellness has improved over the Foulke’s career but he says it’s still not enough. He points out cops have high rates of divorce, alcoholism and suicide. 

“I think we have worked really hard in this department to take care of our employees,” Foulke says. “I’ve seen the change in this profession and we’ve got to get some of the laws to catch up with the times and realize they can do a lot to get our folks the help they need, get the counseling they need. Ultimately the goal is to get them back to work, not to give them a lifetime vacation, it’s to get them back doing the things they are good at and want to do.”

Another aspect of policing that has changed but not enough Foulke says is addressing the departments’ role in racial disparities. He says after the officer involved shooting in Ferguson, MO where officer Darren Wilson shot an unarmed black man Michael Brown attention was turned to racial disparities in policing. 

Local reports such as Race to Equity indicate the area has high racial disparities in nearly all aspects of life. Foulke points out that Middleton police department is no different in disproportionally arresting and citing more people of color.

“Even though we pride ourselves on being a progressive county and region we had those same disproportionate arrest rates and so on,” Foulke says. “I’ve seen a big change when it comes to that both in training and working a lot with minority communities. To some degree success, not enough, some people would say it’s not fast enough. But I think in policing we have recognized our part of that issue and are trying to do something about it.”

He feels that cops end up dealing with the issues caused by racial inequities that many other parts of society seem to ignore, though he credits the school district and city for its attempts to make changes. 

He  says he learned a lot through his involvement with a group called Law Enforcement Leaders/Leaders of Color.

“One of the outcomes that I don’t think was planned was we all became friends, before we weren’t talking, we didn’t know each other,” Foulke recalls.

During the meetings Foulke says the group got to know each other on a personal level and were able to engage in difficult conversations.

“When you can sit and break bread and talk to somebody and be at a table with them and know them by their first names I think that really helps,” Foulke explains.

Foulke says he is most proud of the overwhelmingly positive culture at the department he’s been able to contribute to over his career and as chief. He says everyone laughs a lot and there is exceptionally low turnover for a police department. 

He hopes things do not change and does not think they will. He says the culture is engrained in the officers and the department is defined by the relationship it has with the community.

Foulke announced his retirement six months early to give the police commission plenty of time to find his replacement. The commission hired a search firm to review numerous candidates and make a recommendation. 

Captain Troy Hellenbrand will serve as interim chief and is also an applicant. Foulke says he is pulling for Hellenbrand and recommended him as next chief to the police commission. 

Throughout his career in Middleton he has always been impressed with the support the community has for the department.

“That is the one thing that really heartens me that we have that good relationship with people in our community, I am proud of our efforts to get to that point, but really thankful for the people that they have that appreciation for us,” Foulke says.

The department is celebrated Foulke’s retirement on Dec. 13 at the Middleton Municipal Courtroom.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet