By Julie Ann Madden
I’d like to thank them for giving me this award,” said Union County Chief Deputy/Lead Investigator Mike Bucholz, who was named the 2013 Union County Child Advocate of the Year last month.
“But it’s not just me,” he said. “It’s the whole team that deserves the award. I’m just one spoke in the wheel.”
The award is presented annually to a person who makes a difference in children’s lives in connection with the Union County Child Protection Team.
Having served in law enforcement for 29 years, Bucholz has worked hundreds of cases involving a child as the victim,” said Union County States Attorney Jerry Miller who nominated him for the honor. “Despite Mike’s coarse and gruff exterior, there are few that I know with a bigger heart to get to the bottom of a crime involving a child. Defendants fear his gruffness and children see him for the teddy bear that he is.”
“Mike will move heaven and earth to get to the truth,” said Miller. “He mentors other officers and assists any agencies that need help.”
“It’s a team approach,” said Bucholz. “You can’t do child protection services without it.”
A total team approach includes law enforcement officers, medical and counseling professionals, Department of Social Services workers and prosecutors — all with a proactive stance when it comes to families and children, he said.
“I can get a confession from somebody,” said Bucholz, “but we need good evidence from medical personnel if it involves some type of physical or sexual abuse. We need prosecution on our side and we need social workers to make sure families and children are cared for properly.”
“I can’t say all of my job is abuse cases but a lot of this job involves children and families,” he said, adding about one-fifth of the cases he works involve children.
The numbers stay fairly steady across the board although there may be periods of time when child protection cases are high and others are low like the day The Akron Hometowner interviewed him.
Bucholz was surprised to receive this honor, telling The Akron Hometowner, “You don’t get a lot of recognition in this job, in this career.”
“We’re hired to do a job and we do that job,” he said. “It’s just another day — one foot in front of the other. Just keep going.”
“I very much appreciate the award but I didn’t do it alone,” said Bucholz. “This is not a one-person job.”
“My approach of child abuse is I don’t let any grass grow under my feet,” he said. “I work them quickly — they are top priority cases for me. I’m on top of them immediately.”
Miller praised Bucholz for “a career well spent in the service of others and in the service of protecting children from what goes bump in the night. Because the monster that makes a child afraid is itself afraid of Micke Bucholz.”
Bucholz is a native of Pierre, S.D., graduating from Mobridge High School in Mobridge, S.D. in 1979.
He served in the U.S. Army for three years, then earned an associate degree in criminal justice at a Wisconsin community college.
He returned to his hometown and was a police officer with the Pierre Police Department. In 2003, he became Union County’s deputy investigator and in December 2007 was promoted to Chief Deputy.
As Bucholz begins thinking about retiring in the next few years, “There are lots of cases that set in my head. I did the best I could.”
“This plaque will be one of his prized possessions, displayed in a place of honor even after he has retired,” said Miller. “Not because he would be bragging to others about his accomplishments but because a group of people though enough of what he did to recognize him for his life’s work and passion.”