Polodna a man of service above self

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The Prairie du Chien Police Honor Guard salutes the casket holding one of the police department’s own officers, Detective Stacy Polodna, who passed away Dec. 22, from cancer. Pictured (from left) are Ashley Erickson, Tara Henry, Jeff Henry, Max Erickson, Casey Cox, Kyle Teynor, Terry Sprosty and Chad Abram. For more photos, see the Courier's Facebook page. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

Stacy Polodna served the Prairie du Chien Police Department for the better part of two decades, working part-time in college, starting as a full-time patrolman in 1999, and becoming a detective in 2009. He passed away Dec. 22, 2018, at the age of 50. The most savage of all criminals—cancer—is what took his life. 

Polodna, who lived in rural Bagley, was diagnosed a mere two years ago with glioblastoma brain cancer and retired in 2017. 

According to Sgt. Kyle Teynor, who gave the eulogy at his funeral Dec. 28, one of Polodna’s greatest struggles with his diagnosis was pitting his loyal desire to help the citizens of Prairie du Chien versus his desire to take care of himself. He was described as a man of service above self. He was determined, empathetic, courageous, purposeful, kind and proud. His was also humorous in an honest kind of way.  

Among the condolences shared on Facebook last week, one person wrote, “Even the criminals liked him.”

A testament to Polodna’s prominence in the community is also evident in the 22,000 views of the Courier Press video recording of his funeral processional to the Bridgeport Cemetery. The processional involved dozens of law enforcement vehicles from across the region as it moved south along a flag-fringed Marquette Road from Prairie du Chien to his final resting place. 

For Polodna’s funeral in the performing arts center at Prairie du Chien High School, an estimated 300 people attended. The entire right side of the theater was reserved for his brothers in blue. The Prairie du Chien Police Honor Guard saluted his casket and also sat beside him on the stage throughout the ceremony. Pastor Andy Doll, a friend and department chaplain, officiated. Stacy’s wife, Cari, and three children sat in the front row. 

Teynor said his colleague found it gratifying to serve his hometown, “the place he loved, and the people he loved.”

“Stacy’s compassion and willingness to listen calmed the most serious of incidents. ... Many crimes were solved by Stacy going one step further.” He said Polodna was promoted to detective because of his hard work, investigative skills and fight for what was right.

His first case as detective happened to start when a murder suspect turned himself in at the police department. “Stacy worked diligently to bring closure to the [victim’s] family,” Teynor stated. “Most in this room will never experience the power of looking into a murderer’s eyes and staring back with the fight and poise that Stacy did. He did it with empathy, mixed with duty, mixed with courage.”

According to a short biography of Polodna’s career from his time as grand marshal of the 2018 Prairie du Chien St. Patrick’s Day Parade, he had a strong relationship with many residents and business owners thanks to his career as a detective. He had a passion for solving burglaries and solved many that took place in the community. In 2016, Stacy was awarded the Officer of the Year honor. He’s also received life-saving awards, was a member of the elder abuse committee, dive team, SWAT team and Crime Stoppers, all in Crawford County. Earlier in his career, Polodna worked undercover for a local drug task force and was an officer with the Reedsburg Police Department.

Polodna’s lighter side also made him a memorable figure for many who knew him. As Teynor said, he loved his coffee; buy, sell or trade message boards and a good bargain; grilling and smoking food, and sharing his latest game animal; riding UTVs; spending time with family; and most of all, sharing a fun time and laughter.

Personally, Polodna was involved in the school communities of both Prairie du Chien and River Ridge, coaching little league over the years. He was a 1987 graduate of Prairie du Chien High School and the son of Pete Polodna and the late Janet Cherrier Klinkenberg.

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