'My calling is in law enforcement': Shorewood's new police chief shares her focus on inclusivity

NOW: ’My calling is in law enforcement’: Shorewood’s new police chief shares her focus on inclusivity

SHOREWOOD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The first week of May brought a new leader for the Village of Shorewood Police Department.

The previous chief, Peter Dimmer, became the chief of police in Brown Deer last year.

This March, the Shorewood Police Commission selected Heather Wurth as his replacement.

Though she grew up in Illinois, Wurth is no stranger to southeastern Wisconsin.

She spent 28 years with the Milwaukee Police Department, retiring as a captain in July 2020. After a short break, Wurth decided her work isn't over.

"My calling is in law enforcement. It's in my soul, and I had to find a way to get back to it," Wurth said, "I really wanted to be a chief. I think that was one of my aspirations."

While Wurth's passion for policing wasn't always present, she has always had a passion for people.

She started school studying psychology, and that knowledge carries over into law enforcement.

"Understanding how we as police officers can be much more empathetic and compassionate towards the individuals we have contact with, but also understanding the trauma police officers face," Wurth said.

Wurth's swearing in ceremony this month was particularly special. She is Shorewood's first female police chief, and joins the small 2% of women chiefs in the United States.

"The number of female police chiefs across the country is a very, very small number when you consider how many officers there are. So I'm really honored to be in this position," Wurth said, "As a chief and as a woman I can be a mentor and a role model for our community."

Wurth is also openly a member of the LGBTQ+ community, another crucial part of her identity. While at the Milwaukee Police Department, she established the LGBTQ+ liaison position, connecting with queer-owned businesses and residents. She hopes to continue that connection in Shorewood.

"We know that there's a historical reluctance, especially as an LGBTQ individual, to report being victimized. So I think building those relationships and establishing trust in not just that community, but in our Black and brown communities, is really so important," Wurth said.

Wurth also wants to ensure that her department is present and active within the community.

"There is an expectation and a desire for our Shorewood community, for our police to be much more involved and engaged in community events, creating them, attending them, and that's really one of my strong suits," Wurth explains.

As a new face in charge, her focus is to demonstrate inclusion and compassion.

"I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I really can't," Wurth said.

She believes Shorewood already prides itself on diversity and inclusion, and is excited to enhance that mission.

Wurth also said she's proud to be one of many women in leadership roles within the village, noting Shorewood's progressiveness as a village. 

To learn more about Chief Wurth's history and introduction into the department, click here.

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