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New officer joins Wadena force

Patrol Officer Nathan Warner, a Staples native, joined the Wadena Police Department last month.

For the first time in nearly 10 months, the Wadena Police Department is fully staffed.

Patrol Officer Nathan Warner joined the force May 11, marking the end of a period of transition that began when Chief Bruce Uselman retired last summer. Warner filled the vacancy created by Brandon Pearson's promotion to sergeant in January. Pearson replaced Naomi Plautz, who became interim, then permanent, chief after Uselman departed.

A Staples native, Warner completed law enforcement training at Alexandria Technical and Community College before starting his career as a sheriff's deputy in Montana. After three years, he returned to Minnesota to work for the Norman County Sheriff's Office, where he served for seven months.

Just days before he was scheduled to join the Wadena Police Department, Warner was shot twice - one round struck him in the back in his bullet-resistant vest, and another struck his portable radio on the front of his vest - during a traffic stop near Perley April 15.

In an interview last week, Warner declined to comment on the shooting.

He said he's glad to be working in Wadena, where he's closer to family - and better fishing.

"I've enjoyed it," Warner said. "I don't plan on going anywhere. It's the area I wanted to end up in."

A small town department, he said, provides officers with a nice variety of law enforcement opportunities, he said. "You're not just stuck doing one thing. You get to experience it all."

Plautz called Warner "a great addition to our team."

The chief said now that the department is fully staffed, she has more time to focus on her administrative duties.

The entire department, Plautz said, is in a better position to handle a caseload that has increased dramatically since she joined the force 17 years ago. "We're going to have more time to be proactive."