Pioneer Spotlight: Scott Marquardt
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Scott Marquardt has been the University of Wisconsin-Platteville chief of police since 2009. He has been emergency operations center manager since the EF2 tornado struck on June 16, significantly damaging five buildings, Pioneer Stadium and Memorial Park.
You were already going to be in the Pioneer Spotlight this week, but the questions asked of you will change from the original plan. How has your life changed since June 16?
Yes, the color of the spotlight has changed. Leading into this interview, I was prepared to talk about my role as chief of University Police, how this is a “real” police department with sworn officers, and so that was going to be much of what I was going to spend the next two weeks on with our new students, with registration coming and then this happened. I had to switch to a brand new role and completely wear a different hat. I had to basically turn over all of my policing operations to my sergeant and have taken on the role of being the EOC (emergency operation center) manager for the university. Starting that Monday night and early into Tuesday morning, I have helped keep things organized as we did our initial emergency response and now we are shifting to recovery and reconstruction. Those initial people who were responding to the city that night were dealing with things like who’s hurt and who needs to be helped, and those types of needs. That’s what things looked like at 1 o’clock in the morning. On Tuesday morning, we looked at the buildings that were compromised, we had people in those buildings and some of them under the age of 18, and we needed to get them to a safe place. How do we do that? What kind of injuries do we have? And then the city, of course, was dealing with the same thing, just a short distance away from where we were.
So those are always the initial things. It’s the getting your arms wrapped around it, figuring out what we need to do first and kind of triaging what those needs are. Now a week later, we pretty much have a good sense of precisely what happened and the extent of the task we now have. We now have a better idea today. It’s embracing the entirety of it all and figuring out the best approaches through that. We have a lot of groups working on that.
You have received pretty wide praise across campus for what you have been doing here. How does that make you feel? What do you think led to that success?
I appreciate the praise, and I have been trying to figure out how to deal with that. Every orchestra needs a conductor but there are a lot of virtuoso musicians in the room. I am proud of what I did, and not just during this incident. This has been, for me, getting here as chief of police in January of 2009, five years in preparation. I didn’t come into this university with a strong emergency management background, so I have been learning as I went too and all of the concepts that come with it. I have participated in drills here; I have observed them other places; I have worked on the response plan; I have worked with people with continuity of operations plans; and we have been talking about the concepts for a long time. It is when the phone rings 10 minutes after 11 at night, that preparation really kicks in. To be able to be in a position to help people prepare for this has been rewarding for me. I think I have been a good conductor, but there has been an awful a lot of people on this campus such as police department members, Residence Life members, employees, and student camp counselors walking kids across campus in the middle of the night with no lights in the city of Platteville, after a tornado, and before the next severe thunderstorm hits, to try to get them to shelter. Those are the heroes as far as I am concerned. There are a lot of people out there who deserve a lot of praise.
What brought you to UW-Platteville in 2009 and where were you at before that?
I was with the City of Platteville Police Department for 17 years and before that I was a student, so it has been kind of full-circle for me. I came here as a criminal justice student in the fall of 1989, enjoyed my time here, and got lucky enough to be hired by the City of Platteville in 1992. I spent several years there, increasing my responsibility and was in the process of looking for what my next step was going to be. I was feeling like I was prepared to take on a chief of police role. I had participated in a couple of processes and was enjoying that next part of my life when I was lucky enough to get this position.
The other thing that is different about you is your physical appearance; can you tell us about that?
Since January of 2013, I just decided to get healthy. I have young children at home and I want to be around for them for a while. I found a program that worked for me, and there really is nothing simpler than tracking my calories, staying under a goal and exercising more than I ever have. As of this moment I am 120 pounds lighter. I am not looking at losing any more but I am blessed to be as healthy as I am to deal with what was coming at us this last week.
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