Retired police chief looking forward to being ‘regular citizen’

January 5, 2019

After 31 years as the Norfolk police chief and a nearly 45-year career in law enforcement, Bill Mizner has retired.

And the former chief said he is looking forward to spending his retirement years in Norfolk, which he and his family are happy to call home.

“When we first moved to Norfolk, we didn’t know a soul, but it soon became home,” Mizner said.

Mizner started his law enforcement career in Mitchell, S.D., a town of just under 14,000 people in the 1970s, before serving 10 years in Kearney.

Mizner got to work quickly once he arrived in Norfolk in August 1987. Only days before he officially began as police chief, 9-year-old Jill Cutshall disappeared after leaving her father and stepmother’s Norfolk apartment.

The new police chief arrived to find the police station’s basement — then located on Norfolk Avenue near First Street — filled with officers, investigators, state troopers and FBI agents, among others. After the initial meeting, he went to his new office and wondered out loud what he had gotten himself into.

Later that year, Cutshall’s clothing was found in a wildlife refuge in Stanton County. A Norfolk man, David Phelps, was tried and convicted of kidnapping Cutshall in the 1990s, though her body has never been found and the case remains open.

Since taking over as head of the Norfolk Police Division, the city has been relatively stable with low rates of violent and property crime. The only year where more than two homicides were reported since 1985 was 2002, the year of the U.S. Bank shooting, where five people were killed.

During Mizner’s tenure as police chief, the division has expanded both in terms of manpower — from 30 to 41 sworn officers and nearly doubling the number of support personnel — and in technological capabilities.

Mizner has overseen the implementation of Enhanced 911, computer-aided dispatch, new records software and an upgraded radio system.

The division is also a founding member of the Specialized Narcotics Abuse Reduction Effort (SNARE) Drug Task Force, for which Mizner wrote the first federal grant application to help fund the task force. Many of the units within the division were also founded in Mizner’s tenure, such as the crime prevention unit and tactical response team.

Norfolk mayor Josh Moenning said Mizner has been an integral part of Norfolk.

“Very few people live out a vocation as prolifically and professionally as Chief Mizner has,” Moenning said. “Our community has greatly benefited from his commitment to keeping Norfolkans safe and his great skill and expertise as a law enforcement official.”

Shane Weidner, the city’s public safety director, said in a speech to the city council in December that Mizner has proudly represented the division and the city.

“He’s done so much for this city and its citizens,” Weidner said.

Mizner said he greatly enjoyed his work, and his favorite aspect of the job was interacting with people throughout the department and the city.

“Honestly, there are some aspects I won’t miss, but I really will miss those relationships and being able to talk with people,” Mizner said recently. “I am really going to miss coming in every day and checking in with dispatch, talking to the shift commanders and the officers — just the interactions that you have all day long.”

Mizner said he thinks the division is in good, capable hands, particularly because of captains Don Miller and Mike Bauer.

“(They) are both very capable young men who have demonstrated over and over again that they are more than capable of dealing with any issues that come up,” Mizner said.

Mizner said he is looking forward to retirement and being a regular citizen again. His last official day in office was Monday.

“It has been a tremendous opportunity for me to be a part of Norfolk, and I leave feeling a little bittersweet,” he said. “But I honestly believe the division isn’t going to skip a beat.”

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