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Ikonitski brings diverse experience in his return to Morris Police Department

Dimitri Ikonitski is the new sergeant on the Morris Police Department. He worked for the department in 2001 and 2002. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 2
A copy of a photograph Ikonitski had taken when he first worked for the Morris Police Department in 2001 and 2002.2 / 2

Before rejoining the Morris Police Department, Dimitri Ikonitski rescued people during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and was administrative sergeant who oversaw 58 people in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

Ikonitski is the new sergeant in the Morris Police Department. The department opened the sergeant's position again after several years of not having the role. Ikonitski first served in Morris as a police officer in 2001 and 2002.

Ikonitski was in the thick Hurricane Katrina in 2005 including the relocation of "thousands and thousands of people" from the Superdome to the convention center in New Orleans.

Soon after the hurricane passed and while the wind was blowing and the levees broke, Ikonitski and other law officers were working in the chaos. He was with a fellow officer on that officer's personal boat to rescue people.

"During Katrina, saving people, bringing them to safety...," Ikonitski said is the best example of why he became a police officer. "People were running out of food and water... I'm sure some of the elderly didn't make it."

Ikonitski left a department with 1,300 employees in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Parishes are similar to counties in Minnesota. While his former department may be larger than Morris there are similarities.

"A police job is a police job everywhere. Crime is crime everywhere. Obviously, there is less crime here. I won't deal with (crime) on the same scale as in Jefferson Parish," Ikonitski said.

Although his work and co-workers in Louisiana were satisfying, it wasn't the place he wanted to raise his family. Ikonitski and his wife Jane have three children and are expecting their fourth. A recent visit to Jane's family in Tipton, Indiana, prompted the couple to consider moving to a smaller community.

"In general the New Orleans metropolitan area has a high crime rate, the schools are not that great," Ikonitski said.

When Ikonitski was searching for police jobs, he saw the job posting for a sergeant's position in Morris.

"I already knew the community. It's a college town with a little bit more to offer us," Ikonitski said. "I liked the fact that it was a very nice community, a very family oriented community. The people were very friendly and nice (when he worked here)."

Ikonitski applied for the Morris job, got it and started on Dec. 26.

While Ikonitski left a sheriff's office with sections bureaus such as special investigations and seperate divisions within those bureaus such as homicide, his experience in New Orleans is still similar to work in Morris, Ikonitski said.

Ikonitski became a police officer to protect the public and make a difference.

"I think everybody who is a cop will say that. Mostly, I want to make a positive impact, to make a difference in the community and make it a better place to live," Ikonitski said.

He can make that difference by taking "bad guys off the street," or helping to guide someone in the right direction, Ikonitski said.

As police officer, before and after Hurricane Katrina's devastating force blasted through the New Orleans area, Ikonitski was at work protecting the people and the city.

"There was a lot of breakdown in the upper command structure but at the district level, we were able to kind of hold it together and protect the city the best we could and help save our people."

He dealt with the death, looting and violence that came with Katrina. And he dealt with the day-to-day work that could include serious crime.

He has experience with more crime, serious crime and handling disasters such as Katrina but his work also required him to meet with community organizations, schools, landlords and other members of the community.

Working with people and working with community organizations all apply to working in Morris, he said.

So does handling crowd and traffic control at big events such as the Mardi Gras parade. Morris may not have an even that large or a disaster such as hurricane but what he learned can be used here, Ikonitski said.

He'd like to bring more intelligence-led policing methods to the department along with more emphasis on prevention. An emphasis on prevention would include working with other agencies such as Stevens County Human Services, Ikonitski said.

"Like any college town there are the same issues of sexual assault and recreational drug use," Ikonitski said.

The city of Morris is also seeking a police chief. A chief was not selected when a leading candidate from three finalists withdrew from consideration, city manager Blaine Hill said. Ikonitski was a finalist for chief.  For more about Ikonitski click this linke: