Former UW-Oshkosh softball player Josalyn (Bergholz) Longley will be among those honored this fall with the 2019 UW-Oshkosh Distinguished Alumni Award.
Longley, a Sun Prairie resident, has worked for the Dane County Sheriff's Department since graduating from UW-Oshkosh in 2000. She began as a jailer and moved to the community officer position and then to the active shooter trainer/emergency preparedness coordinator. She is a member of the department's hostage negotiation team. Recently, she was a speaker at the Madison Go Red for Madison Luncheon, a fundraising event that raised over $240,000.
Longley has received a number of honors for her work, including the National Sheriff's Medal of Merit; Police Officer of the Year (representing Dane County Sheriff's Department); and Law Officer of the Year from the Third District American Legion Post 501 and Dane County Voiture 683.
Longley also received the Dane County Sheriff's Office Exceptional Performance Commendation in 2010, the Dane County "Sheriff Award" in 2015, the National Sheriff's Association Medal of Merit in 2017 and the Dane County Sheriff's Office Life Saving Award and Exceptional Service Award, both in 2018.
Longley was nominated for the UW-Oshkosh Distinguished Alumni Award by former UW-Oshkosh head softball coach Sharon Panske.
Longley's supervisor, Lt. Alecia Rauch, in a letter of recommendation, told the story of an incident where a man shot out his television in a rage. The man was barricaded in his home and teams were working to communicate with the man. There were repeated telephone calls and messages on a public address speaker.
"As the night gave way to early morning, Josalyn checked on as a community deputy," Rauch said. "Josalyn saw we were at this residence and immediately recognized that this was someone she knew from her community contacts. She put herself on the call and met us at the site. Josalyn had the man's email contact and within seconds he responded to her email. We were elated we finally had contact with him. We learned what his fears were and worked to overcome those fears so he would exit his residence."
The incident ended after 15 hours, thanks to Longley's strong engagement with the community that allowed the man to trust what she was saying and ultimately come out of the home. Rauch said Longley kept contact with the man and offered support to him and his family. Rauch said when a vacancy occurred on the hostage negotiation team, Longley was an easy selection.
In 2017, she was lead negotiator when a suicidal woman with a gun in her hand. The woman, after some tense moments, surrendered and was safety taken into custody.
Longley said she is most proud of being named the Dane County Sheriff's Office emergency preparedness coordinator. She took a vision from Sheriff's leadership in 2016 to offer proactive training to the community on active shooter events. Her presentations are booked into fall 2019, conducting civilian active shooter trainings. She has attended national training conferences in various locations around the U.S. and has presented training to her peers at the 2018 Wisconsin Sheriff's Conference and the 2019 Wisconsin Association of Community Oriented Policing Conference. She provides "Stop the Bleed" training for citizens in Dane County.
Dane County Sheriff's West Precinct Commander Tim Schuetz said over the past two years, Longley has led over 300 presentations to business, schools, hospitals, government officials, senior centers, churches and private organizations to more than 9,000 individuals. The program is booked out six months in advance.
"I took a community policing/broken windows theory course at UW-Oshkosh and that course had a huge influence on my interest working as a community deputy," Longley said. "Working 10 years as a community deputy, I feel very accomplished and enjoyed the positive contacts with the community. I give my college softball coach Sharon Panske credit for my hard work ethics and determination. She always pushed me to be better and not give up. As I look back on my career and my accomplishments, I know that I wouldn't have achieved them without her."
Longley played softball at UW-Oshkosh from 1996 to 2000 and served as team captain for her final two seasons of competition. In 2000, the Marshall High School graduate received NCAA Division III All-Great Lakes Region Third Team honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. In 1997, Longley helped the Titans to a 23-16 record and a NCAA postseason appearance.
Longley is married to Aaron Longley, a UW-Oshkosh alumnus who played football for the Titans from 1995 to 1999. In her spare time, she enjoys gathering with her family at their cabin in the north woods and watching her children play sports.
Longley will be honored at UW-Oshkosh's Alumni Awards Celebration on Oct. 18 at the Culver Family Welcome Center. The cost is $40 per person and includes dinner. For more information or to RSVP for the event, call (920) 424-3449 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Laurie Schlosser, UW-Oshkosh University Marketing & Communications