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Tiegs brings experience to MPD amid transitions

MORRIS, Minn. -- Although he is new to the position of chief of police. Sgt. Ross Tiegs is no stranger to the Morris Police Department.

With 28 years of experience in the department, Tiegs is familiar with how things have worked and, after his first few weeks on the job,  said he doesn’t anticipate any major changes to the priorities or operations for the department.

That said, there will be changes. With Tiegs promotion and the resignation of another officer, the MPD will have two new officers by the end of this year -– the first new officers since 2009.

“We’re not making big changes, but dynamics of the department are going to be changing because we’re going to have a little more young blood on the department again,” said Tiegs.

Tiegs joined the Morris Police Department in 1985, his first job as an officer after graduating from Alexandria Technical and Community College in 1983.

Between 1983 and 1985, Tiegs worked overnights in corporate security while pursuing a four-year degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

“I didn’t get as much schooling done as I wanted to because family and working 40 plus hours per week – mostly at night – it just made things tough,” said Tiegs. “Education kind of got put on the back burner.”

After about a year, Tiegs decided it was time to start looking for a career in law enforcement.

“I started applying at departments I thought I’d want to work for, and Morris was one of them,” said Tiegs. Ross Tiegs has been a member of the Morris Police Department since 1985.

Tiegs grew up in Ortonville and his wife, Sherry, grew up just outside of Glenwood. The job in Morris was a good fit for being close to family, but far enough away that he wouldn’t risk pulling over friends or acquaintances, Tiegs said.

“My perspective is that it’s that first three, four, five years that you really establish yourself and what you’re going to be like as an officer,” said Tiegs. “I think quite often you find people who are hometown cops have to be a lot harder to get taken seriously … If Morris would have been my hometown, I think I would have had to take a little bit different tack on how I did the job because people have expectations and you have to establish some sort of authority.”

Tiegs finished his four-year degree in 1992 and, at that time, looked at some career options in other departments. But the family had two daughters, Amanda and Courtney, in school and Tiegs was still happy being an officer in Morris.

“There wasn’t any place that really enticed me to want to go someplace else,” said Tiegs. “Morris is a nice community, and I’m glad I stayed.”

For the first 15 years of his career, Tiegs primarily worked the night shift. In 2001 when Randy Willis was hired as Stevens County Sheriff and Jim Beauregard was promoted to police chief, Tiegs shifted his responsibility to focus on investigations and training for new officers. At the time, he was the most experienced officer in the department, and so worked closely with Beauregard throughout his career.

“Jim and I got along very well because we agreed on where we wanted to get to,” said Tiegs. “We didn’t always agree on the roads we were going to take, but we had an idea of where we wanted the department to get to.”

More recently, Tiegs started to specialized in basic forensics and Internet investigations into child pornography and financial crimes as part of the  Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (MICAC).

“There’s a lot of people who know a whole lot more about computers, but I can dig into it enough that I know what I’m talking about and know what to find what I need to find in most of the cases I’ve been handed,” he said.

Now that Tiegs has been promoted to chief, many of his responsibilities will be shifted among the other officers in the department.Tiegs said that when it looked like he was going to get the job, other officers approached him about work they’d like to take on.

One of the biggest changes will be in training for new officers. For the last 12 years, Tiegs has served as the field training officer – every existing officer in the department spent time during their first month on the job.

“It makes me feel good as a training officer, I’ve got people who want to do the things that I’ve been doing,” said Tiegs. “Hopefully [the new officers] are in good hands, since everyone here has been trained by be in some way, shape or form.”