Two recent retirements in the ranks of the Merrill Police Department triggered an upward shift in the form of promotions, which in turn led to two entry-level patrol positions.
Lieutenant Chris Hartwig, a 32-year department veteran, retired on Dec. 12 followed by Investigative Lieutenant Mike Hamann, a 32-year department veteran as well, on Jan. 15.
The vacancies were filled with the promotions of patrolman Don Seubert, a 21-year department veteran, and K9 handler Matt Drabek, a 9-year department veteran, to the supervisory positions of patrol Lieutenant.
Investigator Pat Wunsch, an 18-year department veteran, stepped into Hamann’s role as Investigative Lieutenant while patrolwoman Nicole Cimino, an 11-year department veteran, earned promotion to investigator.
Then on Jan. 18, Logan Lange and Ted Helm were officially sworn in as the department’s newest members, filling the vacant patrol positions.
Officer Logan Lange
A 23-year-old MHS grad and NTC alum, Logan brings three years of experience to the position.
Lange’s law enforcement career began in August of 2013 upon selection as a Correctional Officer in the Lincoln County Jail. Then on Jan. 1, 2015, Lange was promoted to a patrol deputy position where he worked until his selection by the Merrill Police Department.
“I’ve always been inspired by how members of the community look up to law enforcement officers,” Lange explains, of making law enforcement his chosen career. “A good friend of mine’s father works in law enforcement and when I was younger, he was really my first contact on learning about the job. I learned a great deal from him and my interest grew as I got older. I began doing ‘ride-alongs’ with various officers and by time I was through with high school, I knew for sure this is what I wanted to do.”
Lange attended NTC’s Criminal Justice Program right out of high school and worked part time in various security jobs. He attributes his experience with NTC Campus Security as his first exposure to the environment of a law enforcement agency.
“Working with campus security was very beneficial to me in terms of professional development,” he said. “The director and assistant are current and retired law enforcement. They set up and ran the security department like a law enforcement agency, so I learned a great deal from my experience there.
“Then working in the jail was my first real stepping stone into a law enforcement career,” he added. Ninety-nine percent of the job as a Correctional Officer is talking to people. That experience, and just having contact with various people really paid off for me when I became a patrol deputy. Several contacts I met while on patrol, I had previous experience with in the jail. It certainly made those respective calls a lot easier, having that previous experience.”
Lange lists a desire to be more involved with the local community, as his motivation to apply with the Merrill Police Department.
“I am very thankful for the experience and opportunities I was given by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, but my passion is to be more involved more with the local community,” he said. “I am very excited to participate in the various events the Merrill Police Department is active in such as Community Night Out. I think it’s important for officers to interact with community members outside of their normal duties, answering calls for service and so forth. That interaction can help create positive relationships, and that is something I am really looking forward to. It’s a great feeling knowing I grew up here and now having the opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in.”
Officer Ted Helm
Ted is also a Merrill native and a 2009 graduate of Merrill High School and was an active member in Boy Scout Troop 503, obtaining the heavily coveted Eagle Scout credential in 2009. Following high school, Helm attended UW-Marathon County and UW-Stevens Point, graduating in 2014 with a Bachelors Degree in Resource Management/Law Enforcement.
“I was born and raised here and wanted to stay close to home,” he explains of his motivation for applying with the Merrill Police Department. “I’m an avid sportsman and I just love this area. I enjoy deer and turkey hunting and have always loved fishing the Prairie and Wisconsin rivers.”
Helm cites his desire and enjoyment of helping others as his inspiration for a career in law enforcement.
“I developed a liking for helping people and community service at a young age,” he said. “I enjoy working outdoors and I have the opportunity to work with a lot of different people. So I thought law enforcement would make for an interesting career in helping people in my community.”
Both officers began the department’s 8-week Field Training Program immediately following their swearing in by city clerk Bill Heidemann on the Jan. 18.
As explained by 20-year department veteran Jamie Jaeger, the Field Training Program consists of three phases in which each officer will be paired with a veteran training officer known as an FTO or Field Training Officer.
Through each phase, the officer is trained in officer safety, officer appearance and department policy and procedure. The veteran officer is continuously evaluating each of the officers in training, but as they progress through each phase, the officer in training begins to take on more responsibility on their own. Then in the 4th and final phase, the officer goes on solo patrol, while still being observed and monitored.
Starting the week of Feb. 12, the Merrill Courier will be riding along every other week with Officers Lange and Helm, as well as their FTO’s, observing their training and bringing their experiences to our readers.