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Officer who helped after tornado accepts position in Wadena

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Joshua Winter, from Staples, is the new patrol officer with the Wadena Police Department. He started July 1 and previously worked in a part-time position with the Todd County Sheriff's Office.

The Wadena Police Department has a new patrol officer as of July 1.

Joshua Winter of Staples was hired on to the Wadena Police Department after Naomi Plautz was promoted to Sergeant/Investigator.

Winter said it is his first official full-time police officer job, but he has worked part time for the Todd County Sheriff's Office.

If he already looks familiar to people in Wadena, it is probably because - like members of other outside police agencies - he helped in the aftermath of the tornado that hit Wadena on June 17, 2010.

"I was called in the next day," Winter said, recalling his assistance with traffic control and patrolling several night shifts.

Nearly two years later, at the June 12 city council meeting, Winter was approved to be hired for the Wadena job opening.

Police Chief Bruce Uselman said Winter had good work experience with Todd County and interviewed well.

Winter brings Wadena's police force to a total of eight full-time officers, including Uselman and Plautz.

City Administrator Brad Swenson, another member of the hiring committee along with Uselman, said they had close to 80 applications and picked eight or nine people to interview.

Being a police officer wasn't always Winter's first choice of a career.

When Winter attended Central Lakes College in Brainerd, he originally studied to be a conservation officer for the DNR, with the idea of police work as a backup plan. But after getting a job with Todd County, he realized he would rather be a police officer after all.

In his free time, Winter enjoys the outdoors, hunting and fishing.

Winter's wife works at a bank in the Staples area, and the couple has two children.

Wadena is not far from home, and Winter said he is enjoying the job so far.

"It's a good place to work," he said. "All around, things are going well. It's a matter of learning the new geography and where places are and who owns what business and all the other things you learn over time."

Wadena may have yet another new police officer before summer is over. Swenson and Uselman said a current police officer may retire this August, and one of the finalists from the application process could be chosen.