Muskego - The Muskego Police Department second in command will move up to the top spot when Chief Craig Moser retires, the police and fire commission decided last week.

After interviews, the commission chose Captain Richard Rens to succeed Moser who will retire Jan. 6.

Rens joined the Muskego Police Department in 1991, having served in top command positions since then. For example, when a tornado tore through the city in 2010 causing major damage, Rens was in charge of the police response as the incident commander.

He also has been commander of both the department's major divisions -- operations that includes patrol operations, and services that includes the detective bureau, community and school resource officers and all the civilian staff. In addition, he has served as a SWAT leader. Rens was promoted to captain in 2013.

Toughest assignment

One of his most demanding tasks was actually inside the station. It involved programming and structuring the department's new records handling system that is the heart of police operations from when a call comes in to after the call has been resolved on the street. It took a year of testing and trying to think of every possible scenario.

"The consensus was his experience level made the difference," said Micahel Kuwitzky, commission president. "He had more experience in different jobs within the department."

"Experience means a lot," Kuwitzky said. "Especially in law enforcement, if there is a catastrophe or an emergency, that's when it becomes clear."

Even in the day to day work of keeping the department running, Rens stood out in the commission interviews, he said.

"It was obvious he has an intimate knowledge of the workings of budget and technology," Kuwitzky said.

"He's going to make a great chief," he said.

Future initiative

Rens said he was pleased that the commission liked an initiative that he would like to explore. It stems from his family taking in two foster children, he said. Eventually, the parents straightened out the problems that had caused their children to need foster care and the children are now back home.

Taking in the foster children made him more aware than ever how essential it is to help families over rough patches, he said.

"Life has gotten out of control and they need assistance," Rens said. Maybe police can somehow work with community groups or Waukesha County to help people in need to get healthy again so they can get on with their lives, he said.

"I'd like to look into that," he said.

Rens received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Mount Scenario College in 1998 and supervision of police personnel from Northwestern University Minnesota in 2000, He completed the command development course at Southern Police Institute in 2003, the FBI regional command college in 2015 and the executive training series at Waukesha County Technical College this year.

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