JANESVILLE

A Rock County sheriff’s captain who ran against his boss in 2014 announced Thursday he will run again in 2018.

Gary Groelle is challenging Sheriff Robert Spoden, who has been sheriff since 2007.

Groelle, of Milton, is a 35-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He was not available for comment Thursday.

Groelle’s campaign announcement does not directly mention the recent investigation into Spoden’s actions regarding an underage drinking party that involved Spoden’s son.

Spoden tried to get Janesville police to drop their investigation into the party, where a young man was critically injured.

Spoden texted messages to the investigating officer, saying the young people at the party were good kids from good families and didn’t do anything wrong.

Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary referred the matter to the state Department of Justice, which reviewed the matter and found Spoden had not committed any crime.

O’Leary said later Spoden interfered with an investigation and should have known better.

Groelle concluded his news release with these words: “I will always represent and demonstrate professionalism, transparency, integrity and ethical behavior that the citizens of Rock County can be proud of.”

Spoden beat Groelle in the Democratic primary in 2014 with 56 percent of the vote. Spoden did not face an opponent in the general election. He has not announced whether he will run again in 2018.

Groelle said in his news release that if elected, a major focus of his administration would be the opioid epidemic, echoing his promise in 2014 to focus on heroin.

He said he would address the opioid addiction problem “through a combination of increased staffing, maximizing the skills of our officers and staff and working with local agencies and addiction treatment centers.”

Groelle plans to run again as a Democrat, a spokeswoman said.

Groelle, a captain for eight years, now serves in the sheriff’s office civil process and court services bureau. He said in his release that he holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in highway traffic safety.

He has served as a patrol deputy and correctional officer and held supervisory posts in those areas and in court services.

Groelle also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

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