Monday, October 16, 2006

Profile Story: Deanne Thorsen

In most cases, secretarial work tends to be mundane. For Deanne Thornsen, head secretary for the UW-W police department, it's emphatically the opposite.
"I like my job because it's never boring," said Thorsen. What used to be a one-person job has now expanded to three. Deanne has a full-time assistant secretary, along with student workers who come in between 7:45a.m. and 4:00p.m. to answer phones and fill out reports. When asked what her job duties are, Deanne said, "What don't I do?"
She deals with the public on a daily basis, as police departments and other people request police records. She's also in charge of keeping the seven computers operating and up-to-date on the first floor of Goodhue hall, where the police department is located. She's also in charge of payroll and deposits for all sectors of the police force as well. Along with police staff payroll, she also manages all student workers and 'safewalkers' - a student-run walk-along service on campus. There are currently 15 safewalkers, who patrol from 6:00p.m. to 2:00a.m. "Safewalk doesnt get used much, but I do believe it makes campus a bit safer than it would be without them," Thornsen said. In addition to endless clerical work, she also attends court proceedings in Walworth county once a month.
Thornsen has a long history in secretarial police work. "I started my law enforcement career as a dispatcher at the Tomah police department," she says. "I didn't care for the hours of law enforcement, which are nights and weekends, so I went to work in the records office at Jackson Correctional Institution." After her stint at Jackson, she took a pay cut and worked as a program assistant at the State Patrol Academy. "It was closer to home, and I wanted to get out of the prison setting," Thornsen says. Her husband, Oran Thornsen, then got a job in the Janesville ara, and Deanne interviewed for and won the head secretary position.
Communication is key to her position. "A good relationship with fellow employees is always important," she says. "I have contact with the officers and management staff and must work closely with both. It would be hard to do my job effectively without a good relationship with all of them," Thornsen said. The student workers are also very important to her, as she can't stay productive without them. "I have to answer phones and monitor the check-in counter when they're not in," she says. "I don't get much done." She also said that the student workers do a lot of time-consuming jobs, such as filing mail and magazines and filling out accident reports, which she greatly appreciates.
Deanne is just now finding time for hobbies. "For the first time in 20 years, my husband and I are alone in the house. It's kind of nice!" Deanne says with a smile. Her two kids, Becky and Tom, are both away at different colleges. She loves to swim in the summertime, and in her spare time she enjoys reading. The Thornsen family also has a vacation home in Northern Wisconsin, which they travel to frequently during the summer months.

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