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Interoperability program staff recently consolidated under the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs. From left: Joshua Ripp, policy and program analyst-advanced for the Wisconsin Interoperable System, Jessica Jimenez, policy and program analyst for FirstNet, Lauraine VanderJagt, operations program associate, James Klas, policy and program supervisor, and Tom Czaja, director of emergency communications. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Sgt. Katie Eggers

The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, which recently assumed responsibility for Wisconsin’s statewide interoperability programs, named its first director of emergency communications.

Tom Czaja joins the department as the director after 39 years in law enforcement. In this role, Czaja will oversee Wisconsin’s interoperability programs including the Wisconsin Interoperable System (WISCOM), NextGen 911, land mobile radios, and the Public Safety Broadband Network, also known as FirstNet.

“It’s truly an honor to serve as the first director of emergency communications,” Czaja said. “I look forward to working with the adjutant general to improve the state’s interoperability programs to best serve the people of Wisconsin.”

Czaja brings a wealth of experience to the position. He is the past president of the Milwaukee County Law Enforcement Executives Association, the Wisconsin Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates, the past Vice President of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and the past president of the Suburban Mutual Assistance Response Teams. He is a life member of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association as the retired chiefs of police representative.

Czaja holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Certified Public Manager Program. He is also a graduate of the 168th session of the FBI National Academy.

Joining Czaja are staff members from the Department of Justice that transferred to the Department of Military Affairs with the interoperability responsibility identified in the governor’s 2017-2019 biennium budget. His staff includes James Klas, Policy & Program Supervisor; Joshua Ripp, Policy and Program Analyst-Advanced for WISCOM; and, Jessica Jimenez, Policy & Program Analyst for FirstNet. In addition, the Department of Military Affairs hired Lauraine VanderJagt to serve as an operations program associate. Additional staff members from the Department of Transportation that currently work on WISCOM will transfer to the Department of Military Affairs in 2018.

The state consolidated its interoperability programs under the Department of Military Affairs as part of the 2017-19 biennium budget.