Advancing diversity on the force. Keeping the inmate population down. And, developing a bond of trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

These are the top priorities of Dane County Sheriff Kalvin D. Barrett. The vows made on May 10th as Barrett raised his right hand before the Honorable Judge Everett D. Mitchell at the Dane County Courthouse. The completion of the swearing-in ceremony lands Barrett in the history books as the county’s 53rd sheriff and first African American to lead the department’s deputies.

“Every moment, every day, from this moment, I get to put on a badge and inspire, motivate and lead a sheriff’s office filled with deputies who will inspire, motivate and lead this generation and next generation of peace officers in our community,” Barrett said. “This is the most important thing that we need right now and we will do it together.”

Gov. Tony Evers appointed Barrett as Dane County sheriff to fill a vacancy created by Sheriff David J. Mahoney’s resignation, effective May 8, 2021. Barrett will complete the remainder of the term which ends Jan. 2, 2023. 

“With 12 years of service as a law enforcement officer, Kalvin Barrett is a dedicated public servant,” Evers said in a prepared statement. “I am confident he will be an effective, empathetic leader in Dane County and will work to ensure the safety of and collaboration with every community he serves.”

Barrett served as Dane County Deputy Sheriff from 2009 to 2011, and as an officer with the Sun Prairie Police Department from 2011 to 2016. He is currently a law enforcement officer at Wisconsin State Fair Park and teaches law enforcement and criminal justice at Madison College, where he is the faculty director of the criminal justice studies program. He is also a workplace violence and active threat response consultant. Barrett earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2004 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Master’s degree in criminal justice from American Public University in 2020.

“I am excited Kalvin Barrett will be our next Dane County Sheriff,” said State Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison). “I know he will work to keep us safe and strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and all our communities in Dane County.”

Barrett was overwhelmingly recommended for the appointment by a diverse, blue ribbon panel of community and law enforcement leaders, which consisted of: Anthony Burrell, the superintendent of the Wisconsin State Patrol; David Erwin, the chief of the Wisconsin Capitol Police; Earnell Lucas, the sheriff for Milwaukee County; Reisha Mitchell, an administrative law judge and former public defender; Ryan Nilsestuen, the governor’s chief legal counsel; Aissa Olivarez, the managing attorney for the Community Immigration Law Center; and Teran Peterson, a Dane County Board Supervisor and member of the Public Protection & Judiciary Committee.

“I want to thank the residents of Dane County,” Barrett said. “You have, and you are, involved in all local law enforcement. I accept and respect all of your opinions. I have an open-door policy for every Dane County resident as your sheriff. I look forward to serving you many years to come.”