Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling chats with City of Racine Police Chief Art Howell during at a Downtown Racine Corporation event promoting its public art project featuring local K9 officers.
Please introduce yourself:
My name is Christopher Schmaling. In 1989, while a senior at Mary D. Bradford High School, I met a beautiful young girl, Jennifer Mau, who in 1996 became Jennifer Schmaling. We have three amazing children together: Zachary 20, Amber 19 and Samantha 14.
In 1992 after college, I began my career as a Corrections Officer at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and was eventually hired as a Deputy Sheriff with the Racine County Office in 1995. I always had a drive for small business and in 1996 my wife and I purchased a Subway franchise restaurant. One year later we purchased our second Subway restaurant. It wasn’t long before we realized that running two successful restaurants, two successful careers and being pregnant with our first child that something had to be let go of. Although tough to let them go, the restaurants were profitable and we quickly sold them. In 2010, at the age of 37, I successfully ran for Racine County Sheriff and was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2011 as Racine County’s youngest elected Sheriff. As the Sheriff of Racine, my love for business and law-enforcement is taken to a new level. I am currently and proudly seeking re-election to my third term.
Where are you from originally?
I am the youngest of nine children, yes, nine…five girls and four boys. It would have been five and five, however, an older brother passed at birth. My parents, Howard and Marlene Schmaling, happy and healthy today, raised all of us in the city of Kenosha.
How did your life’s journey bring you to Racine?
Growing up in Kenosha, my family and friends were no strangers to Racine. My father lived in Racine as a child. We also traveled to Racine often to visit festivals such as Salmon-A-Rama and shop for back-to-school clothes at the once vibrant hotspot of Regency Mall. My wife Jennifer has plenty of family from Racine as her mother’s side of the family are from Racine. Her grandfather is James Lochowitz, and her mother, Kathy Mau (Lochowitz), is a ’71 graduate of Case High School.
After college, I applied to the Racine, Kenosha and Lake County Police and Sheriff’s Departments. Law enforcement is a competitive field to enter, and I accepted my first offer at Lake County Sheriff’s Office as a Correctional Officer. One year later, in 1995, I accepted a sworn Deputy Sheriff position with Racine County Sheriff’s Office. We’ve built and sold homes in Racine, Caledonia, Waterford and currently reside in the Village of Mount Pleasant. Our kids have been actively involved in sports and dance throughout the years which have kept us pretty busy.
What do you like best about Racine?
Racine has many wonderful amenities being located between two major cities, Milwaukee and Chicago. There’s always something for everyone to do. We have a vibrant downtown with great restaurants, cool places to shop and a beautiful lakefront to take a jog. Catching a train for a day trip to Chicago with my family is our favorite pastime.
Please give some examples of how your work has made a positive impact on the community.
There are so many amazing and daily examples where my RASO team and I have made a positive impact on the communities of Racine County. Perhaps the most significant impact on the community would be outfitting all of my deputies with life-saving naloxone, the life-saving antidote for an opioid overdose victim. Nearly four years ago, the law, at that time, prevented law enforcement to carry naloxone. I traveled to our state’s capital and testified to its life-saving abilities and that oftentimes my deputies find themselves “first on scene” at many rescue calls giving us the opportunity to change the outcome. On the very day that Governor Walker signed it into law, we outfitted every squad car as well as the jail with nasal naloxone. I’m proud to say that to date we have more than 35 lives saved in Racine County. Is not often in law-enforcement and we can take a proactive step rather than reactive. In my view, saving a human life is certainly a proactive step. My hope with the 35 lives that have been saved is that they will go on to beat their addictions and live a happy productive and healthy life.
What’s the least understood aspect about what you do?
The least understood aspect of law enforcement is society oftentimes forgets that we are people too. God made us all the same with only some added courage and bravery to those who chose to put their life on the line each day for their community. We don’t have a crystal ball that gives us some exclusive insight into what the next call will be or what a criminal’s intentions are. Law enforcement professionals make split-second decisions every day with often little or no information. Those decisions have real consequences and sometimes are life-or-death situations that oftentimes creates community divide as we are second-guessed by the community when they are finally afforded all the information and take hours, days and weeks to process that we decided in seconds.
What would you like to accomplish during the next 6 months? 12 months?
Directly ahead is my upcoming election and I would be proud to have proven to our community that I am ready for my third term as Racine County’s Sheriff. After the election, I’m excited to implement my three-year plan toward public safety as we brace ourselves for FoxConn and the influx of new community members and visitors to our county.
What’s the best way to contact you?
Chris.Schmaling@RacineCounty.com or (262) 636-3822