Cherise Caradine has had aspirations to become a police officer since 1994. It was a time of grief that turned into a moment of clarity.
Not long after she graduated from Monona Grove High School, her close friend was killed in a car crash. At the time of his death, he was enrolled in the Criminal Justice program at Madison College. “I remember sitting at his wake when an unknown police officer walked up to the casket and silently placed an 8-point hat on the casket and left,” she recalls. “I’ll never forget that moment of wanting to be in that ‘family.’”
Sgt. Cherise Caradine and K9 Casey, a Dutch Shepherd, have been partnered together since 2007.
Caradine would eventually join the law enforcement family in 2002 — but the path she took to get there was an indirect one. After graduation, she enrolled at Madison College, admittedly without much focus. “Growing up in a successful family business that had given me a strong work ethic, I had a commitment to stay local and help the family,” she explains. “Not getting a college education was not an option in my family.”
It was after her friend’s tragic death when she took a year off to refocus and come up with a plan. She returned to Madison College to obtain her Nail Technician certification. She then opened her own business while also working toward an associate degree in marketing. For Caradine, attending Madison College was the best option at the time. “I was able to stay close to my support system at home, and it gave me the flexibility to obtain a useful degree all while starting and maintaining my own business.”
After several years, she found owning her own business to be physically and mentally taxing. Not only did she want the experience and benefits of working for someone else, she felt the time was finally right to join the law enforcement family. Caradine applied and was accepted to the Wisconsin Police Corps, a federally funded program to get better trained, community-oriented police on the streets.
Once accepted into that program, which included scholarship/tuition reimbursement and extensive academy training at WI State Patrol, all participants had to apply and be hired by a sponsor agency. Caradine selected UW-Madison Police Department. “It seemed the best fit with the most opportunities, and they would pay me to ride a bike at work,” she explains. “That was a dream come true for me at the time!”
Fast forward 14 years and she’s never been happier. As Sergeant K9 Handler for UWPD, “I have the ability to partake in the best parts of the job — policing, handling a dog and teaching,” she says. “It’s very rewarding.”
By far, her favorite aspect of law enforcement is the people and “the community we get to serve,” she says. “I get the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life on a daily basis. No two days have ever been the same for me. Each day is a new adventure.”
Besides those she serves are her brothers and sisters in blue. “I work with amazing, talented, smart people,” Caradine adds. “They will go to any length to help anyone, all while being humble and noble.”
In addition to being a K9 handler, as a police officer, “I am fortunate to continue to work, grow and develop my passions at my job that include Department Wellness and bringing free self-defense to the women in the campus community,” she says. As for the future, “I plan to continue learning and will visit promotional opportunities when the time is right.”
In her free time, Caradine is passionate about running as well as coaching/competing in Crossfit. But her biggest hobby is her family. “Home is where the heart is,” says Caradine, who enjoys spending time with her husband, two kids and two dogs.