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Tiegs to retire from career in Morris (with video)

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Morris Police Chief Ross Tiegs won't be in the office after Dec. 28 because he will retire. His last day will be Dec. 28. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 2

Retiring Morris Police Chief Ross Tiegs spent his entire 33-year career with the Morris Police Department. The last five of those as police chief. Tiegs will retire on Friday, Dec. 28.

Tiegs completed a two-year law enforcement program at Alexandria Technical College and completed his four-year degree at the University of Minnesota Morris. While a student at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, he started applying for law enforcement jobs. Tiegs wanted a job in an area that gave him the lifestyle like he grew up in.

Tiegs grew up on Big Stone Lake in Ortonville. "It wasn't uncommon for me to get up at 6 a.m., catch some fish and clean them before school," Tiegs said.

Both he and his wife Sherri, who grew up in Glenwood, liked the idea of being in smaller community.

Tiegs worked the night shift in Morris for 17 years. He and fellow officer David Stevenson patrolled the streets and walked the sidewalks in the downtown checking the doors of businesses and properties, "Making sure there were no break-ins," Tiegs said.

Tiegs switched to day shifts in 1999. From 1999 until he became chief in 2013, Tiegs completed leadership academies and advanced training including training in computer forensics. For about six years he worked with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab on cyber cases.

"I did about three or four cases a year," Tiegs said. Tiegs described the cases as "iffy" cases which may not have had much chance to get to court. Still, his worked helped ease some of the load at the BCA.

He gave up the work when he became chief. "Forensics is extremely time consuming, I couldn't devote all the time I needed to work here and do that work," Tiegs said.

Although crimes involving computers and technology have increased since he started in 1984, the crimes are still many of the same old crimes, he said. Criminals used to send letters to try and steal money from people, now they send emails or call them on the phone, Tiegs said.

Technology has also changing policing, Tiegs said.

Four channel radios have been replaced with systems that have the capability for local police to communicate with law enforcement across the state. Simple display terminals in squad cars that provided rudimentary communication between police and dispatch have been replaced with laptops.

Even ticket writing has changed with technology.

"When I started we had four different tickets--state citations, universal traffic tickets, municipal ordinance violations and parking tickets," Tiegs said. Those were paper tickets given to the violator.

"Now everything is electronic," Tiegs said.

While policing has changed over the years, the goal of protecting the public hasn't changed, Tiegs said.

Working in a small town may be different than in a large city but there were times when Tiegs said his sixth sense, or sense of danger, happened while working.

"I guess I've been lucky in my career. There's only been three occasions where I've had to pull a gun on somebody," Tiegs said. Those occasions involved break-ins.

On the flip side he's encountered a possum in a doorway while checking locks on businesses during a night shift.

Tiegs said will and he won't miss police work when he retires.

"I will miss the people," Tiegs said.

Tiegs said as the chief and while he's been a member of the department, the department has been able to hire officers who can think, adapt and do the job.

Morris "is a good spot to start," Tiegs said. Because the skills the officers have and use in Morris, they can move on to other law enforcement careers, he said.

Morris may be a good spot to start but for Tiegs it's always been a good place to stay.

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