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Morris Police officers committed to community

MORRIS – Six months after welcoming two new officers, the Morris Police Department is at full force with Chief Ross Tiegs, two civilian support personnel and seven sworn officers.

With new officers in the community and experienced officers taking on new responsibilities, the Morris Sun Tribune wanted to take the opportunity to introduce the seven patrol officers charged with providing security and support for the city of Morris.

Sergeant Jason Reed

Jason Reed “caught the bug” for police work during his senior year at Moorhead High School, when he interned with the Moorhead Police Department.

“It was eye-opening,” said Reed. “I had the same biases I think a lot of people have, that police work is always fun and exciting, driving fast and bank robberies every day.”

His first call was for a group of kids who had gone in the ditch. The students who had been drinking fled the scene, leaving behind a deaf student who had trouble communicating with officers. Reed helped bring the student back to the department to try and find his parents.

“It’s not what you think of as your typical law enforcement call, but helping him and seeing that relief when his parents came in the door – that got me hooked on it. … The actual helping people is what makes it so fun.”

Reed joined the Morris Police Department in April 2001 after serving two years as a deputy sheriff in North Dakota, bringing Reed and his wife, Selena, back to their home state.

Within the department, Reed wears a lot of hats. Since being promoted to sergeant in October 2013, Reed has taken on supervisory roles like setting the schedule and organizing field trainings.

In addition to patrol work, Reed also does most of the major crime investigations, which includes everything from homicides to assaults to burglaries.

“I like the investigative part of the job,” said Reed. “It’s like putting puzzles together, trying to figure out the case from the very beginning and watching it go through the trial process to ultimately conviction or acquittal. It’s something different every time, no two cases are the same.”

In off hours, Reed likes to spend time in the outdoors hunting, fishing and boating on area lakes. His daughters, Claire and Ellen, love animals, so in the summer the Reeds spend a lot of time at the zoo in Wahpeton.

Specialist Shane Nelson

Shane Nelson started his law enforcement career as a deputy sheriff in Pennington County, N.D.

When it came time to move on, Nelson grabbed a map of Minnesota looked for areas that would fit his family’s love for hunting and fishing.

Nelson joined the Morris Police Department in 2004 and now serves as the narcotics investigator for the department. Because the MPD is not part of a drug task force, Nelson does most drug investigations independently and follows them from the complaint to court proceedings.

Nelson said Morris has its “fair share” of drug activity, ranging from methamphetamines, synthetics and prescription medication.

“With our rural setting, it’s common for us to have methamphetamine because we have a lot of anhydrous ammonia and a lot of the farmers in the area have what is needed to make meth,” said Nelson.

One of Nelson’s most memorable days on the job came in October of 2012 when he was called to a sudden cardiac arrest at the Morris Post Office. With the help of Officer Anita Liebl, Nelson resuscitated the victim who made a full recovery.

Because of his passion for the outdoors, Nelson almost decided to become a game warden until he realized when he’d have to be working.

“With four boys, I’m glad I’m not spending every deer opener and fishing opener in a truck,” said Nelson.

School Resource Officer Anita Liebl

As the school resource officer for the Morris Police Department, “Officer Anita” Liebl is often recognized out in the community by students in the Morris Area School District.

Liebl, a 15-year veteran of the department, said the students are her favorite part of the job.

“They say something or do something every day that’s funny or unique, and you do get to help them,” she said.

When the school resource officer program began in 2001, Liebl said she approached former chief Jim Beauregard to volunteer for the position – “I knew it’d be something different every day.

During the school year, Liebl spends most of her time up working with students and staff in the Morris Area School District. In her role, Liebl visits classrooms to talk about issues like safe driving, DWI laws, Halloween safety, winter survival or tornado awareness.

Liebl said she makes a special effort to visit students at Morris Area Elementary School to make sure they feel comfortable and know they can ask her for help.

In the summer, she joins the rest of her colleagues on patrols out in the community. Liebl also assists when officers are working with students or when staff with human services does interviews for child sexual assaults.

Liebl is an avid sports fan who plays softball and golf and enjoys riding motorcycles and spending time with her family.

Officer Reggie Welle

Reggie Welle, a native of Melrose, Minn., came to Morris six years ago after graduation from Alexandria Technical and Community College, because it was the size of a town he was hoping to work and build a family in.

“I wanted to be in a job where it wasn’t monotonous,” said Welle. “This was one of those roles that you can do that and still be able to help make it a safe place.”

In addition to regular patrol duties, Welle works with two public safety programs, car seat safety and the Toward Zero Deaths program.

As part of the car seat safety program, Welle works with the staff in public health to make sure parents have access to a safe car seat and know how to use it. He also encourages anyone with questions about car seat safety to contact him with questions.

The TZD program, formerly Safe and Sober, is a statewide traffic safety program. The Morris Police Department coordinates with other partners in the region to get more officers out during enhanced patrol times. The program also addresses seat belt use.

“Here in Morris we do take seatbelt enforcement very seriously – it’s been proven to help keep people safe in accidents,” said Welle.

Welle said that in his time as an officer he’s seen a decrease in the number of drunk driving offenses, especially since the Morris Area Taxi started serving the area.

“People notice when there are more officers driving around, it’s just a deterrent,” said Welle.

Welle and his wife, Megan, welcomed their son, Liam, in January 2013.

Officer Jared Dittbenner

One of reasons Jared Dittbenner decided to be a police officer was because of the fond memories he had of police officers helping him when he was a kid.

Dittbenner, who moved to Morris with his family in the fourth grade, joined the Morris Police Department as a full time officer in June 2009. He has a two-year degree from Alexandria Technical and Community College is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Concordia College in St. Paul.

As an associate member of the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association, Dittbenner organizes and offers crime prevention classes in the community, everything from fraud prevention to alcohol awareness. Dittbenner also organized a class for rental property owners to teach them about background checks and crime prevention through environmental improvements like trimmed trees and proper address labeling.

“If you go around town, you’ll notice that some addresses are in odd spots, which sometimes makes it hard for emergency personnel to find the right residence,” said Dittbenner.

Dittbenner also organizes the annual Bike Rodeo each summer for students to get a bike helmet and go through the bike course.

“I like making contact with people on a normal basis – being able to talk with them in a normal setting so they get to know who you are,” said Dittbenner.

When the weather gets warm, Dittbenner likes to pursue his passion for traditional archery, an activity he’s done with his dad since he was in elementary school.

Officer Brett Collins

As one of the two newest members of the Morris Police Department, Brett Collins is just starting to get to know the Morris community.

After graduating from Alexandria Technical and Community College, Collins worked at Ringdahl EMS as an emergency medical technician for two years before being hired by the Morris Police Department in September 2013.

Collins, who is originally from a small town in Otter Tail County, said he was drawn to being a police officer because “I like to help people in a time of need.”

Collins spent his first six weeks in training including ride alongs with other officers. Early in his training, Collins was involved in two high-speed pursuits in rural Stevens County that both ended in arrests.

In his free time, Collins enjoys snowmobiling out on the trails near Morris.

Officer Travis Clark

Travis Clark doesn’t have family in law enforcement, but knew he wanted to be a police officer since he was in elementary school.

After graduating from Alexandria Technical and Community College, it took Clark a little while to find police department job that was a good fit. He started with the Morris Police Department late in September 2013.

As a native of Forest Lake, Minn., Clark said he had a little culture shock moving to Morris, but that “it’s nice to get away from the headache of the Cities.”

So far, Clark said he’s been impressed with how well local law enforcement groups work together on cases and how quickly they can share information.

When the weather warms up, Clark said he’s excited to get outside to hunt and, especially fish.

Clark also said the Morris community has been a friendly and welcoming place.

“I don't like giving tickets, but I do like being the one that people call when they need help,” said Clark. “I’ve met some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life in Morris.”