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Bemidji Police: Department reshuffles to fill positions

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Five officers with a combined experience of more than 130 years in law enforcement retired or resigned from the Bemidji Police Department in 2011.

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They included the former police chief, captain, two sergeants and a patrol officer.

Mike Mastin, who in December officially was appointed the new chief of police, has been working since then to again get the department to full staff.

Sgt James Marcotte was promoted to captain, a vacancy created upon the retirement of former Cpt. Bob Lehmann.

Marcotte has been in law enforcement for 21 years, spending 11 years with the Tustin Police Dept in California. He joined Bemidji's department in 2002 and has served as a patrol officer, a special agent with the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force and Headwaters Violent Crimes Task Force, and a patrol sergeant.

Officer David LaZella was promoted to the position of sergeant, a vacancy created when Sgt. Les Plasschaert retired in October.

LaZella has served as an officer since 2004 and had recently been assigned to the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force and Federal Headwaters Violent Crimes Task Force. He continues to serve the department as a Taser instructor, bike patrol officer and a firearms instructor.

Prior to becoming a police officer in Bemidji, LaZella was employed with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Beltrami County dispatch center.

A second sergeant will be named later this month.

Three officers joined the department and underwent a 14-week field training program designed to teach geography of the city, policy and procedures specific to the city and related technology.

The three new hires are:

E Heather Holden and Ryan Riley fill vacancies created upon the resignation of officer Becki Pederson in August and the retirement of the former chief, Gerald Johnson, in October.

E Officer Benjamin Moody will fill the position created by LaZella's promotion. Moody is a 2006 graduate of Hamline University. He worked for Boys Totem Town, a division of Ramsey County Corrections.

Officer Denielle Winskowski retired on March 31 after 36 years in Law Enforcement.

She began her career in 1976 as a dispatcher. In 1977, she became a deputy sheriff and later became a police officer with the Thief River Falls Police Department.

In 2002, she came to the Bemidji Police Department and worked as a patrol officer.

E Officer Michael Mestemacher has been selected as the new auto theft investigator.

The Bemidji Police Department, in collaboration with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, were awarded an Auto Theft Prevention Grant from the Minnesota Dept of Commerce for a total amount of $304,306.

E Officers Michelle Leffelman and Tabitha Carrigan applied for the car seat grant through the Office of Traffic Safety, securing 52 car seats that will be available to those that qualify and participate in training.

Five officers with a combined experience of more than 130 years in law enforcement retired or resigned from the Bemidji Police Department in 2011.

They included the former police chief, captain, two sergeants and a patrol officer.

Mike Mastin, who in December officially was appointed the new chief of police, has been working since then to again get the department to full staff.

Sgt James Marcotte was promoted to captain, a vacancy created upon the retirement of former Cpt. Bob Lehmann.

Marcotte has been in law enforcement for 21 years, spending 11 years with the Tustin Police Dept in California. He joined Bemidji's department in 2002 and has served as a patrol officer, a special agent with the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force and Headwaters Violent Crimes Task Force, and a patrol sergeant.

Officer David LaZella was promoted to the position of sergeant, a vacancy created when Sgt. Les Plasschaert retired in October.

LaZella has served as an officer since 2004 and had recently been assigned to the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force and Federal Headwaters Violent Crimes Task Force. He continues to serve the department as a Taser instructor, bike patrol officer and a firearms instructor.

Prior to becoming a police officer in Bemidji, LaZella was employed with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Beltrami County dispatch center.

A second sergeant will be named later this month.

Three officers joined the department and underwent a 14-week field training program designed to teach geography of the city, policy and procedures specific to the city and related technology.

The three new hires are:

- Heather Holden and Ryan Riley fill vacancies created upon the resignation of officer Becki Pederson in August and the retirement of the former chief, Gerald Johnson, in October.

- Officer Benjamin Moody will fill the position created by LaZella's promotion. Moody is a 2006 graduate of Hamline University. He worked for Boys Totem Town, a division of Ramsey County Corrections.

Officer Denielle Winskowski retired on March 31 after 36 years in Law Enforcement.

She began her career in 1976 as a dispatcher. In 1977, she became a deputy sheriff and later became a police officer with the Thief River Falls Police Department.

In 2002, she came to the Bemidji Police Department and worked as a patrol officer.

- Officer Michael Mestemacher has been selected as the new auto theft investigator.

The Bemidji Police Department, in collaboration with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, were awarded an Auto Theft Prevention Grant from the Minnesota Dept of Commerce for a total amount of $304,306.

- Officers Michelle Leffelman and Tabitha Carrigan applied for the car seat grant through the Office of Traffic Safety, securing 52 car seats that will be available to those that qualify and participate in training.

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