WATERLOO — Dan Trelka became Waterloo chief of police in May 2010. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he started his career as a deputy sheriff in Weld County, Colo., in 1990. From 1992-2010, he was a member of the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Police Department, where he served as chief of police for seven years.
In November 2018, Trelka became the first Republican in a decade to win a seat on the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors. He’s currently serving as police chief and on the board of supervisors.
In 2016, Trelka and his wife adopted two girls they’d been fostering for two years. The girls joined the couple and their five biological children as part of the Trelka family. In early 2018, Trelka made news again when he donated a kidney to a stranger in Milwaukee.
What drives you?
Success, but success comes in many forms for different people. For me, seeing the crime rate in Waterloo continue to trend down is the type of success I thrive on. I live in Waterloo. If I am a part of an organization that is having a positive impact upon the crime rate, that benefits the ones I love: my family.
What was your biggest accomplishment in 2018?
Donating a kidney for a person in need. It was kind of comical, too. As I was lying on the operating table before they put me under, I literally said to myself, “This seems kind of barbaric.” Then I chuckled to myself and I was out.
What are your goals for 2019?
1. Diversion of citizens suffering a mental health crisis from the county jail to feasible, prudent alternatives (detox, crisis center or the hospital). We are nearly to the point of making this a reality.
2. Every year Waterloo police officers run a physical fitness test (sit-ups, push-ups, sit and reach, and the 1 ½ mile run). For each decade of age, the threshold for passing increases. My goal is to pass the physical fitness test in the 20-29 year old range. (Editor’s note: Trelka is 55.)
3. As a county board supervisor, discovering and pursuing collaborations with other local governmental entities for the mutual benefit of all residents in Black Hawk County.
What makes the Cedar Valley a great place for business/education?
We are fertile ground for progress, growth and opportunities. Just look at what each individual city in the Cedar Valley has to offer. The offerings are as diverse as our citizens. There is something for everybody. Yet everybody knows everybody else.
And let’s look at how we are geographically located. Des Moines, Madison, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City and Omaha are all within fairly easy driving distance. Want to go further? You have your choice of no less than half a dozen airports within 250 miles to utilize.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned in your career journey?
If you enjoy your job, you never have to work another day in your life.