State Fair Park police officer is one of the first openly transgender cops in Wisconsin

Posted at 9:23 AM, Aug 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-08 10:23:48-04

WEST ALLIS — The Wisconsin State Fair is known for things like cream puffs, the animals, and the giant slide, but now it will also be known for someone else.

“You know, being a transgender officer nothing is different. Walking these grounds is the same as any officer that is down here.”

Dezjorn 'DJ' Gauthier is one of, if not the first, openly transgender law enforcement officers in Wisconsin. He works for the Wisconsin State Fair Park Police Department.

“The folks that we encounter, right? We want to be the face of the same folks that are here on ground," Gauthier said.

He was sworn in back in December 2022. He is one of the 54 State Fair Park police officers on the force.

Dezjorn Gauthier
Dezjorn Gauthier joined the Wisconsin State Fair Park Police Department in December 2022.

There are multiple officers on the grounds every single day of the year for the dozens of events held at State Fair Park. The department is its own law enforcement agency. Rather than the park contracting with nearby police departments, hiring private security, or relying on state-provided law enforcement, the State Fair Park has its own police force. These officers focus more on event security and safety rather than things like traffic enforcement.

During the State Fair, Gauthier patrols on foot for 11 to 14 hours a day with another officer.

“He’s an integral part of that team, so we’re very lucky to have him," John Flannery, a police inspector with the State Park Police said. He was on patrol with Gauthier.

When Gauthier isn't responding to a call, he's handing out one of the 1,000 stickers he has.

"I'm pretty sure, 100 percent I'll get through all 1,000 stickers," Gauthier said.

If he stops for more than a few moments, he is swarmed by young children asking the officer for stickers.

Dezjorn Gauthier on Patrol
Dezjorn Gauthier patrols the State Park with his supervisor John Flannery.

"The rookie is doing outstanding. The rookie has natural leadership abilities," Wisconsin State Park Police Chief Ken Pileggi said.

Chief Pileggi encouraged him to become a cop after working with him as a public safety officer for six years.

"I saw so much potential in him that we decided - in talking with him - we sponsored him for the Milwaukee Area Technical College recruit academy to have him become a police officer after the 720-hour basic academy (training)," Chief Pileggi said.

Now, Gauthier feels proud to work with the State Fair Park police, and his colleagues are equally happy to have him on their side.

“We all wear the same patch. We all wear the same badge. He’s part of that while yet still advancing his transgenderism...and bringing a better understanding not only just for our staff but for fairgoers as well," Chief Pileggi said.

Gauthier hopes to accomplish two things. He wants to be a role model cop.

“Police officers are here to help.”

He also wants to be a role model for other transgender folks.

“That we are here that we do exist and that there are employment areas that completely accept us with open arms.”

Gauthier is accomplishing both at the same time