As a law enforcement officer handling sensitive crimes, Cindy Fredericksen put away the worst of criminals. But her heart was always looking to capture Kenosha at its best.
On Thursday, Fredericksen died surrounded by family and close friends following a battle with leukemia after being diagnosed just six months earlier. She was 58.
State Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes, a close friend, remembered Fredericksen as a person whose community engagement intersected many paths, but her focus and genuine concern for others transcended their differences.
“She was so kind and just always thinking about others’ well-being. That was just so reflective of her and her personality,” said Kerkman, who met Fredericksen while she was with the Kenosha Police Department seven years ago.
At that time, Fredericksen had helped the legislator with a co-sleeping bill, one intended to prevent infant deaths. Fredericksen retired from the police department in 2014 after 32 years of service.
Kerkman said Fredericksen was diagnosed with cancer in late January and underwent chemotherapy treatments. She visited Fredericksen, who was in hospice care, over the last few days before she died.
‘Extremely dedicated’ as officer
Fredericksen, who grew up in Twin Lakes as a teen and graduated from Wilmot High School, began her career in law enforcement in 1982 after earning an associate’s degree in police science from Gateway Technical College. She rose through the ranks as a patrol officer to become a detective investigating sensitive crimes, including child abuse and domestic assaults, for 13 years before becoming a patrol supervisor. The last two years on the force, she served as administrative sergeant under then-Police Chief John Morrissey, who is currently city administrator.
“She did a remarkable job as relief public information officer and as my administrative sergeant,” Morrissey said. “She set a new standard for that position.”
Morrissey credited Fredericksen with establishing the department’s social media presence, one that adeptly displayed both the humorous and serious sides of policing.
“She was extremely dedicated as a police officer, which was second only to her dedication and commitment to those who served in the military,” he said.
Fredericksen met her husband Tom, a retired Kenosha Police detective, while they were both on the department. A Vietnam War veteran who suffered the effects of Agent Orange and whose legs had to be amputated due to diabetes, Fredericksen donated one of her kidneys to her husband more than 20 years ago.
Dan Wade, retired police chief, called Fredericksen an “outstanding human being.”
“As an officer, she was top-notch. As a person, I’d put her on a pedestal. She was very creative and very loving,” he said. “When she and Tom got married, everything she did, she did for him.”
Seen around behind the lens
When she wasn’t patrolling the streets to keep the community safe, Fredericksen could be seen behind a lens, taking photos of veterans who proudly served their country, firefighters training to battle a blaze, birds nibbling berries or nestling for a nap and the beauty of the seasons as Mother Nature painted the skies, beaches and Lake Michigan with vivid colors.
On a social media post that has been shared on multiple public Facebook pages, friend Romana Groeschel, an adjunct instructor in firefighting technology at Gateway Technical College, remembered how Fredericksen volunteered many hours taking photos of certification classes and live fire trainings that gave students and instructors “tangible memories” of their hard work.
“It allowed the students to reflect back and be proud of such moments and accomplishments, and to show their families just how hard they have been working while away at class for 96 hours a semester,” Fredericksen said.
According to her post, Fredericksen had complained of back pain and feeling ill for months. She had thought they were due to her allergies and chronic back issues, but she became very ill and had to be transported to the emergency room. Doctors later informed her she had leukemia.
“She fought hard for months, many different rounds of chemo, and even when Cindy was extremely fatigued and weak, she still managed to whip out that camera and document her battle and share it with us on social media,” Groeschel said.
Morrissey said that, even up until the last couple of months before she died, Fredericksen would send photos of how she saw Kenosha in its splendor from the quietude of the lakefront to the veterans memorial ceremonies.
“Some of them were just beautiful,” Morrissey said. “A huge passion of hers was taking those pictures, making Kenosha shine and just beautiful. She was certainly a great ambassador, not only for the police department, but for this city.
“Every time she would go out, she would show people how Kenosha was a great city. ... Her photography was how she did that. She was just a wonderful person. I’m better as a person for having known her in my life.”