North Dakota police chief reflects on rewarding career
By ANDREA JOHNSON
Jan. 22, 2018
BERTHOLD, N.D. (AP) — Berthold Police Chief Al Schmidt said he has wanted to work in law enforcement ever since he was a little boy playing cops and robbers.
"It's rewarding and it's ever changing and it's interesting," said Schmidt. He said it can be a challenging job but, like other police officers he has met, he loves the work and wouldn't want to do anything else.
Schmidt grew up in Seattle and finished high school in West Fargo. He studied criminal justice at North Dakota State University in Fargo and graduated from the police academy at UND Lake Region in Devils Lake. He has worked in law enforcement for about 23 years.
He has helped build the Berthold police department from the ground up since he became the police chief five years ago.
"I started in Berthold in 2012," said Schmidt. "There was no police department there prior and (I) had to write ordinances, policies, buy equipment and structure and create everything that goes into operating a police department."
Last year he was also hired as the police chief for Carpio, which had never had a police department before, the Minot Daily News reported .
"I am still in the process of structuring it," he said. "This was the first time in N.D. history two cities have co-opted a police department."
Schmidt has also been active in the community, where he serves on the Berthold Economic Development Board. He was previously in charge of the Berthold Cemetery, and is currently planning the town's annual parade and city festival. Schmidt and new K-9 officer Hunter visited and delivered presents to sick children at Trinity Hospital in Minot before Christmas last month. Schmidt remembered being hospitalized at Christmas when he was young and said he wanted to help cheer up the kids.
Hunter, a chocolate lab, is trained to detect drugs and has helped Schmidt make drug busts in the seven months he has been on the job.
"He was trained in Iowa and is a single purpose drug detection dog," said Schmidt. "Hunter is very people friendly and we visit hospitals and schools on our days off."
Schmidt said he and Hunter have talked with kids at area schools and the dog has also been used in searches for drugs at some schools.
Schmidt, an animal lover, has also worked on the board of directors at the Souris Valley Animal Shelter in Minot.
Schmidt, who is married to Sheila and has children and stepchildren, also works with kids in the community. He said bodybuilding is one of his serious hobbies and he was the 2014 heavyweight champion in the upper Midwest United States. He also has worked with athletes and students who are weight lifting and has also coached youth baseball in Berthold. He said his son, who is in high school, is considering a career in law enforcement now too.
As police chief, Schmidt said he goes out of his way to help people whenever he can. He gets to know everyone in the communities that he serves and he wants people to feel they can call him if they ever see anything suspicious.
"What I try to do is never tell anybody there's nothing we can do here," said Schmidt. "I always try to help them as much as we can."
Helping out a citizen might mean assisting on a medical call or serving a protection order or even playing the peacemaker in a neighborhood dispute as well as working on more serious cases.
Schmidt is also proud that his police department has made some significant drug busts.
"(Some of the) highlights of my time in Berthold include making the two largest methamphetamine arrests and the largest marijuana arrest," he said.
Until recently, the department held the state record for the largest drug busts.
"I enjoy the variety of the job and never wake up upset that I have to go to work," Schmidt said. "Kindness, determination, and efficiency would best describe my policing methods."
Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com