NEW BUFFALO — There are approximately 141 sworn deputies (of which 23 are women) in the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, but only one of them gets to be “Deputy of the Year.”
This year, the honor went to to Sgt. Julie Flick, who many in the community know from her role as the supervisor of the five-person unit of Sheriff’s deputies permanently assigned to New Buffalo Township. The unit works out of the Pokagon Tribal Police substation at Wilson Road and Route 239.
“It’s pretty special,” Flick said when asked about the significance of the recognition. “Because you’re chosen by your peers.”
That is, other sworn deputies. They nominate the candidates, and then they vote for the one person they feel is most deserving.
Here’s how Flick’s selection is summed up in the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office’s 2011 Annual Report: “Her dedication is beyond the average person. She comes into the office on her days off to make sure the schedule is in order, and if there are any problems, she is there to help. Sergeant Flick will assist other deputies with reports if needed to make sure they are completed in a timely manner. Sergeant Flick is not only a dedicated supervisor but a great mentor. Whenever you speak to other police officers and someone asks, “Who is your supervisor?,” they always say how lucky we are to have her….”
Born in Valparaiso, Indiana, Flick, whose maiden name is Redamak (her grandparents were the founders of the famous New Buffalo restaurant that still bears their name) has lived in the area since she was about a year old.
She is the oldest of three daughters born to Terry Redamak, a prominent local attorney until his death in 2004, and Mary Redamak, who many will remember in her various roles as a bookkeeper for New Buffalo Area Schools and as a member of both the school board and local library board.
Flick attended New Buffalo Elementary and New Buffalo High School (Class of 1989), where she regularly made the Honor Roll and was active in sports, especially basketball and softball (for which she was named to the All Red Arrow Conference during her senior year).
Flick knew she wanted to continue her education after graduating from high school, but she wasn’t quite sure what career path she would take. Eventually, she decided to pursue a degree in Business.
“It seemed like a good, basic degree to start with,” she said.
True enough, but a chance crossing of paths with New Buffalo resident Chuck Heit, whom she had known since high school, in 1992, set the stage for what eventually became an interest in law enforcement.
At the time, Heit, who would go on to become the Undersheriff of Berrien County, and a friend of his (Mike Lanier, who went on to work for the New Buffalo Police Department for many years and currently serves on the St. Joseph Township Police Department) had just enrolled in the Police Academy at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and they just happened to rent an apartment next door to where Flick was living at the time.
Following a number of conversations with the two men about their decision to pursue careers in law enforcement, Flick found herself wondering whether she might want to follow a similar path herself.
“Chuck suggested that I join New Buffalo’s reserve program — Ed Caid was chief then — and the very first time I went out on patrol as a reserve officer, that was all it took,” Flick recalled. “I loved it.”
After earning her Business degree at Western Michigan University, Flick enrolled at Kalamazoo’s Police Academy, where she finished at the top of her class. That got her noticed, and in June of 1995 she was invited to join the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.
Like many new recruits, Flick started out in the Jail Division, but accepted a position in the department’s Road Patrol Division in November of the following year. She was assigned to the Detective Bureau in 2001 and the following year was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Next came a three-year stint at the department’s Dispatch Center. In 2006 she was assigned to her current duties in New Buffalo Township.
So what’s next for the Deputy of the Year? Flick said she might test for Lieutenant some day, but she’s not in a big hurry.
“Maybe in a few years,” she said. “I really like what I’m doing now, and I like working in the New Buffalo area.”
For one thing, it puts her closer to home and family. Married to Jamie Flick, a sergeant with the Grand Beach Police Department, since 1999, the couple has two sons, Michael, 10, and Andrew, 7.
As a family, the Flicks love sports, especially baseball. Both boys are active in the local Little League, for which Jamie volunteers as a coach, and they make occasional trips to Chicago to watch their favorite team play.
“We’re big White Sox fans,” Julie admitted. “We try to take the boys two or three times a year. We wish we could go more often, but we’re just so busy.”
Asked about the origins of her fondness for Chicago’s South Side team, she chuckles.
“I was brainwashed by my father,” she said.