Sparta police chief makes history

Emilee Nottestad takes charge as the department's first-ever female top cop

Emilee Nottestad grew up in the law enforcement family.

Her father was a police officer and she says always had a passion for it.

Nottestad was a patrol officer and sergeant in Viroqua for 15 years before coming to Sparta.

She was a lieutenant and deputy chief before getting the promotion to be the department’s top officer.

For the past 40 years, David Kuderer wore the badge as Sparta’s top cop.

“It’s a hard guy to follow because he was involved in, and still is, involved in everything,” Sparta police department chief Emilee Nottestad said. “Everybody knows him.”

Now Nottestad is ushering in a new era to the department.

“He (Kuderer) really built a solid relationship between the department, and the city, and the community,” Nottestad said. “So I want to keep that going.”

It’s not that Nottestad isn’t familiar working in tough cases. She worked in several Internet Crimes Against Children cases while in Viroqua.

“A lot of work in those cases, and they can be very long cases, and very heart-wrenching cases,” Nottestad said.

She got involved right away when she moved on to Sparta five years ago.

“We had a bomb threat first thing as I started as a lieutenant,” Nottestad said.

But, she learned along the way that having the community respect you is the most important thing.

“If we’re doing our job right, a lot of times people don’t even know that we’re there,” Nottestad said.

And when she raised her hand to become chief, she did not even realize she was the first woman ever in the department to do so.

“It has not occurred to me in any of the steps that I’ve taken,” Nottestad said. “So, I don’t know that it occurred to me at this point until after I already had the job, and somebody else pointed it out.”

Nottestad plans to use her platform as a tool to inspire other women.

“The more that young ladies and young women see other women in law enforcement, hopefully the more we can draw into this career field,” Nottestad said. “Because I think there a lot of qualified women out there who are amazing at this job.”

And despite having big shoes to fill, she’s ready for the challenge.

“Hopefully I bring a different perspective to the job and something new, and make positive changes,” Nottestad said.

Nottestad was sworn in as chief Jan. 11.