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'It's been an interesting and rewarding job'
Green County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Kohl stands in the first floor hallway at the Green County Justice Center on Friday. Kohl is now retired after becoming the assistant district attorney in 1988. To order this photo, click here. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Friday marked the end of a nearly 30-year career in Green County after longtime Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Kohl retired.

Kohl, 65, who began working as assistant D.A. in 1988 after working in private practice in La Crosse, said he had seen remarkable changes in the legal landscape during his tenure.

"Back in the day, it was extraordinary that this office had a computer," Kohl said. "It was an old IBM Personal Typing System," he added, referencing a late 1980s computer with a 40 MB hard drive and a dot matrix printer.

"Every file we wanted to run, we had to run on floppy disks, where now we're talking about doing paperless filing these days," Kohl said.

Without the computerization of his office, Kohl said, he would have been unable to deal with the volume of cases he sees on a daily basis.

"It's been thousands of cases since I started," Kohl said. "I think we have about twice the number of felonies today than we had when I started."

Kohl attributed the higher number of cases in recent years in part due to computerization as well: Computer crimes are wholly new offenses that did not exist 30 years ago, phone records are easily obtainable and people can be tracked through their computer records.

"Before, it would be rare that we would issue one search warrant in a week," Kohl said. "Now, though, it's rare that we issue less than two in a week, not just for a residence, but for phone records and computers, too."

"So, on the one hand, there are more offenses, but we've also gotten better at investigating them," Kohl said.

Interdepartmental organizations and cooperation are also more common now than in 1988; former District Attorney Gary Luhman opened several programs to combat domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.

Kohl said he believed the Green County community was more aware of the dangers of sexual assault now than in 1988 as well, saying that his office receives more referrals about sexual assaults than before because schools and the community are better communicating the nature of sexual assault to at-risk groups.

"That's the nice thing about Green County," Kohl said. "Maybe there's a bit more violence here now than before - I mean, it was years before we had our first armed robbery with a gun - but if you look at some other places, we're a lot better off."

Kohl said he does not intend to give up his law license, but has no immediate plans to resume practice after retiring. Instead, Kohl said he would visit his son in Florida before returning to Monroe.

"I'll be around," Kohl said.

Meanwhile, Kohl's empty seat will be filled by a familiar name: his daughter, Laura Kohl, who has herself served as assistant district attorney of Fond du Lac County for nine years.

"That will certainly be interesting," Kohl said. "She has plenty of experience, so I know she'll do well."

Kohl's retirement comes only four months after Luhman's departure at the end of September 2016. Luhman had been district attorney in Green County for 25 years, and was replaced by current D.A. Craig Nolen.

Both Nolen and Laura Kohl previously interned in Green County during their law educations, Kohl said.

At the end of his career, Kohl said he was glad to have worked in Green County.

"It's been an interesting and rewarding job," he said. "And I'd like to think I've made some kind of difference here."