BURNETT COUNTY -- Hello, my name is Ryan Bybee and I am a patrol sergeant for the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office where I have served for 16 years. It is with humbling pride and great support from my family, friends, coworkers, business owners, citizens of Burnett County, and former Republican Sheriff Dean Roland, that I am announcing my candidacy for Burnett County Sheriff.
I have proudly served Burnett County with distinction for over 16 years as a deputy sheriff and currently hold the rank of Sergeant. I am also the K-9 Supervisor and Law Enforcement Advisor to the Burnett County Law Enforcement Citizens Auxiliary (BLECA).
I was raised in Southern Wisconsin and moved to Stevens Point in 1997 to attend college at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. While attending college I met the love of my life, Jennifer, and we got married in August of 2003. In 2007 we bought our dream home in the country where we are raising our children, Natalie and Conner. When I’m not working we enjoy hunting and fishing as a family.
I graduated from UWSP in December of 2001 with a B. S. in Social Work with a double minor in Environmental Law Enforcement and Social Work in Rural Communities and with Native Americans. I was promptly hired by the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office on March 13th, 2002. I served as Burnett County’s first Tribal Liaison Deputy and worked closely with the newly formed St. Croix Tribal Police Department. Our focus was on community-oriented policing and drug interdiction.
In 2005 I took a lateral transfer to the patrol division and served as a Deputy Sheriff. I have worked every shift rotation. When not taking calls, my extra time patrol was always spent on drug interdiction.
In 2008 I began managing and supervising the newly restructured Recreation Program for the Sheriff's Office. Under that new role, I was responsible for supervising and training staff, managing budgetary items, and working closely with local government leaders and community groups. I also wrote the Field Training Manual and department policy for ATV, Snowmobile and Boat patrol. I developed a network of relationships with the Burnett County Board, Natural Resources Committee, the Burnett County Forestry Department, the Turf and Tundra ATV Club, the Wisconsin ATV Association (WATVA) and the Burnett County Law Enforcement Citizens Auxiliary (BLECA) and local business owners. This network of relationships exists to this day.
As our trail system increased in size, so did the need to provide a safer riding experience for the recreating public. We increased our staffing and patrol efforts. Word spread quickly in the ATV community that Burnett County was a safe place for families to ride and our county saw the economic benefit of this. During this time I implemented and supervised Burnett County’s first Water Patrol division, which is still in operation today.
In the fall of 2010, I was involved in an officer-involved shooting. Below is my story of that critical incident.
September 26th, 2010 was a beautiful fall day and I was patrolling Springbrook Trail in Blaine Township. The leaves were just starting to turn color. Jennifer and I had just learned she was pregnant with our second child. I was thinking about the baby when I heard radio traffic indicating there was an active shooter situation in the Village of Siren.
Reports were that a male gunman was indiscriminately shooting people and vehicles. The rampage lasted for eight long minutes before the suspect fled the scene. Radio traffic indicated multiple gunshot victims. I located the suspect and conducted a traffic stop. Ultimately the suspect pulled over and exited his vehicle. I exited my squad. I did not see his shotgun at first, but then he charged towards me and fired. I felt the pellets tear my flesh. I feared for my life and returned fire, striking the suspect. The suspect disappeared from my view.
I saw blood on my left hand. I was in pain and I was scared, but I was still in the fight. I had done was I was trained to do. I took a deep breath and radioed dispatch to send two ambulances. The grass in the ditch was high. I couldn’t see the suspect. Then he fired again. I still couldn’t see him. I held my position and waited for back up. I never felt so alone in my life.
Time stood still until back up arrived. We approached the vehicle as a team and took the suspect in to custody, thus ending the incident.
I immediately called my wife Jennifer to let her know what happened. Try explaining to your pregnant wife that you just got shot and then try convincing her at the same time that you are going to be ok. Needless to say, we have a strong bond.
They took me to the ER. I was in a room next to two other shooting victims, a husband and wife who had been shot while they were parked in traffic. They were injured a lot worse than I was. I said a prayer and thanked God.
The suspect died as result of his injuries. A thorough investigation confirmed that the suspect was high on methamphetamine during the time of the shooting. The shooting was ruled justified and I returned to work.
The summer of 2011 blessed us with birth of our second child, Conner.
Just know that when your life is on the line you are going to want someone like me responding to your call for help. I have proven that I will give my life to save your life and I will do that again when called upon. This is the same mentality that I have instilled in every deputy I work with. As a leader of Sheriff’s Office I have always led from the front and have earned the respect of my staff. I have also held staff accountable. I firmly believe that law enforcement should be held to a higher standard.
In 2013 I was promoted to the rank of field sergeant. The administrative responsibilities include reviewing reports, budget management, training standards and scheduling. This means being available by phone at all times to make command level decisions. Staff knows they can count on me. I also complete pre-employment background checks on deputies, jailers and dispatchers. The majority of my time is spent responding to calls for service, patrolling, supervisor patrol staff and drug interdiction.
When Sheriff Ron Wilhelm took office in 2014 he asked me to research the possibility of starting a K-9 program in Burnett County. It had been over sixteen years since Burnett County had a police K-9 on patrol. We always had to rely on another agency’s K-9 for mutual aid. Research indicated that the initial start-up cost to buy a K-9, train the officer and K-9, purchase equipment and retrofit an existing squad was $20,000 to $25,000. There was no room in the 2015 budget for this program. Through my research I also learned that the majority of police canine programs in the Midwest are funded through donations. The Burnett County Law Enforcement Citizens Auxiliary (BLECA) offered to raise the money needed to get the program started. The BLECA worked with local business owners and members of the public and raised the money needed to purchase a K-9 and equipment.
We held a K-9 naming contest at area schools and the K-9 was named Tracker. In 2016 I was appointed as the K-9 supervisor. It is my responsibility to ensure that the handler and Tracker meet their monthly training standards, get the equipment they need to perform their duties, keep detailed deployment logs and schedule events such as locker sniffs and public demonstrations. I also wrote the policy for the K-9 program. The K-9 program has been a complete success and today Tracker is a household name in Burnett County. As Sheriff, I would be able to continue Sheriff Wilhelm’s vision and guarantee the continued success of the K-9 program.
As Sheriff I would focus law enforcement efforts on school safety, combating meth, and managing taxpayer money in a responsible manner. The more presence the Sheriff's Office has in our schools, the safer they will be. The more we deploy K-9 Tracker and utilize modern drug interdiction tactics, the less drugs there will be in our schools and community. The better managed your tax dollars are, higher priority crime-fighting efforts can be funded.
It is proven that presence of a police officer is a deterrent to criminal activity. Sometimes it can be something as simple as an officer stopping at a school to have lunch with the students. This can help change stereotypes and make someone think twice before engaging in criminal activity.
I regularly visit our area schools to give recreation safety talks to kindergarten through third grade classes. We always focus on safety. At that age the children are still in awe of a uniformed officer. They are not afraid and they ask a lot of engaging questions. This early interaction can help shape their impression of law enforcement.
For the last two years I have assisted with the Meth Diversion program. The audience is always 5th grade. At this age a lot of the children have already been exposed to drugs and alcohol. We teach them about self-esteem and how it can be used to defeat negative peer pressure and make good choices. We teach them about the consequences of using meth and heroin. At graduation K-9 Tracker makes a guest appearance. Over the past two years I have noticed how our youth have taken an ownership role in Tracker’s success. Tracker also performs random locker sniffs when requested by school staff.
Teachers don’t have to be scared, but they do need to be aware of what’s going on with the students in their classroom. Teachers are the front line of defense against a potential classroom threat. Law Enforcement and teachers need to train together to recognize the warning signs before it’s too late. I live here too. I am raising my family here. My children go to school with your children. We all need to work together to keep our children safe.
I work a lot of drug cases and I always try to talk with the people I arrest. I ask how old they were when they started using and the response to that question keeps getting younger and younger. People attribute their drug use to no positive role model, abuse, mental illness and to escape reality. Some of these people commit other crimes like theft, burglary and robbery to support their addiction and because they are high.
We need to decide who can be treated and who needs to be incarcerated because they are a greater risk to society. The meth and heroin problem in Burnett County is out of control. Tracker has been sniffing out a lot of drugs and we publicize these seizures. Tracker is confirming what we already knew, there are a lot drugs being trafficked through Burnett County and the citizens of this county are fed up with it!
Our deputies need more specialized training in drug interdiction and Burnett County needs a dedicated drug detective who can join the regional drug task force and take these cases to the next level of investigation. We have trained and experienced deputies who are ready to fill this assignment. As sheriff I will make it happen.
During my sixteen years of service to Burnett County I have received specialized training and held many different appointments.
- SWAT Team Sniper 2003 to 2014.
- Terrorism/Treat Liaison Officer to the Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center (WISC)
- Law enforcement advisor to the Burnett County Law Enforcement Citizens Auxiliary (BLECA)
- K-9 Supervisor
- Active Shooter Training in Schools
- Field Training Officer
- Law Enforcement Supervisor
- Leadership in Law Enforcement
- Police Sniper
- Rural SWAT and Advanced Rural SWAT
- DEA Drug Investigator School
- Operation RUSH-Drug Interdiction
- Interview and Interrogation
- Techniques for the Recorded Interview
- Department of Homeland Security-Agricultural Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
- Community Service Award
- Officer of the Year
- Two Medals of Valor
- Sheriff’s Purple Star
- Sheriff’s Combat Cross