ANNA - Anna Police Chief Jeff Caponera says family considerations were a driving force behind his decision to leave Anna and become chief of the Grafton Police Department in Grafton, Wisconsin.
While he and his wife both hail from Colorado, they have family in the upper Midwest and look forward to being closer to them.
"The decision was hard, I’m not going to lie," Caponera said. "We have such a great group of folks who work here and care about the community. The next chief that comes here is going to be very happy."
The city of Anna plans to announce its interim plans by the end of the week.
Caponera’s official retirement date with Anna is Aug. 31. He will begin his new role in Grafton on Sept. 21.
Caponera joined the Anna Police Department in 2008. He was promoted to interim chief in 2018, a role that became permanent in July of that year.
Prior to that, he served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Technology Committee and Board of Adjustments. He was also elected to the Anna City Council in 2008 but never took office because he was hired as a police sergeant.
"I greatly appreciate his service, and we at the city of Anna wish him the best," Mayor Nate Pike said. "I think he’s done a really good job of bringing a culture of community policing where our officers get to know the residents in our community."
Caponera’s law enforcement career also includes stints with the Adams County Sheriff’s office and Thornton Police Department, both in Colorado, as well as the Collin County Constable’s office.
He also attended the FBI Academy where he met current Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, Undersheriff Christy Knowles. She first told him about the Grafton opening.
With his retirement eligibility date approaching this year, Caponera had been pondering his future plans.
In addition to being closer to family, he liked the idea of living in an area that actually has four seasons.
In Grafton, he found a community with many of the same qualities he liked in Anna. It’s a town of less than 20,000 people located in the outer fringes of the suburbs, about 25 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee.
He was attracted to the city’s vibrant downtown and community feel. While its weather there may not be warm, he said the welcome he received there was.
"It’s definitely a place where you would want to take your family and be happy raising your family," Caponera said.
Under Wisconsin statute, Grafton’s police chief is chosen by a police and fire commission responsible for hiring, firing and discipline. The Village Administrator then works with their chosen candidate to finalize the terms of employment.
Before making its decision earlier this summer, the commission gave finalists the opportunity to meet with current police officers, city staff and community stakeholders.
Grafton Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said he came away impressed with Caponera’s credentials and the way he handled the meeting, particularly in light of the awkward face masks and social distancing requirements in place during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Thyes also praised Caponera for his confidence, a quality he considers vastly important for a chief of police.
"He was just very forthcoming with everyone. Obviously he was trying to get the job, but it didn’t come across that he was trying too hard," Thyes said. "It was the commission’s decision, but I felt he was the strongest candidate."
Caponera officially accepted the job offer June 21.
As he looks back on his time in Anna and as an officer in Texas, he cherishes all the relationships he’s built over the years.
He said he’s learned a lot from the challenges he’s faced in Anna, experiences that can’t be replaced. He’s also proud to have had a hand in many of the positive things that the city has done over the years that he’s been involved.
"I have a lot of good friends and a lot of positive relationships with the surrounding chiefs and of course the officers and others," Caponera said. "That’s what I’m going to miss - the comradery and the people."