The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Eric Severson has worked in law enforcement for almost thirty years, but that wasn’t his original plan.

Eric first came to UW-Platteville in 1980 to study technical communication. After graduating, Eric felt a pull toward the law enforcement field. As a student, he had worked as a resident advisor, helping students solve their problems, and it sparked his initial interest in the profession. Unfortunately without any firsthand law enforcement experience, he had trouble getting hired.

So Eric returned to UW-Platteville and began working on a second bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. “I wouldn’t reverse the way I got my degrees. My communication degree has probably been more helpful—especially in leadership positions,” Eric said.

“Completing my degree was not a requirement or necessary for advancing my career,” Eric said. “I wanted to finish it and set a good example for my kids to finish what you started.”

“If I was aware of how quickly I could’ve gotten back into the academic world, I would have done it much sooner,” he said.

Eric is now in his 26th year with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, working as an Inspector (Undersheriff) responsible for both the law enforcement and corrections side of the department. In addition to administrative litigation and human resources work, he mentors new command staff and works cooperatively with the 29 police agencies in Waukesha County.

Outside of work, Eric pursues a different passion: building his own RV-8A airplane. Eric is a private pilot and member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). As a student, he got his license at the Platteville Municipal Airport.

Eric’s wide-ranging interests have not only taken him down a different career path, they’ve led him to one in which they are an asset. “In law enforcement, you need a variety of people with different skill sets and knowledge bases. What we do is complex, and we need people who can solve a variety of problems,” he said.

With only nine credits left to complete, Eric was hired by the Waukesha (Wis.) County Sheriff’s Department as a Supervisor, and put his criminal justice degree on hold. He returned to UW-Platteville in 2011 —this time, online—to finish his degree.

-- Cheryl Lange


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