Late last month, 21-year old Wyatt Pufall became the most recent officer to join the ranks of the Merrill Police Department.
Pufall fills a vacancy created by the retirement of former police chief Ken Neff and subsequent upward movement in the department as a result of promotions.
A native of Mosinee, Wyatt is a 2-year graduate of NTC’s Criminal Justice Associate Degree program as well as the school’s police recruit training program. Prior to joining MPD, Pufall worked as a Community Service Officer for the Wausau Police Department as well as NTC campus security.
As Pufall explains, the proximity of Merrill to his hometown and the department’s strong focus on community policing, were key factors in his decision to apply.
“I wanted to do something that allows me to give back to the community I live in. Merrill is a good fit for me, as I am still close to my family while pursuing my chosen career path in law enforcement. When I spoke to my instructors at NTC before applying to Merrill, I asked my instructors about the department and was told MPD is a great department. I was told the officers here are a great bunch and very close knit,” he adds.
Pufall also indicates he did his research on the department by visiting the department’s website and social media pages.
“I was really impressed by the the high level of community support for the police department on social media,” he said. “They seemed very involved with the community and that’s a great quality in a department. Being involved in my community is important to me, I knew then this was a department I wanted to work for.”
Pufall is now at the tail end of phase one, of the department’s 4-phase Field Training Program.
As 5-year department veteran and Pufall’s current Field Training Officer (FTO) Eric Soberg explains, the program is designed to get officers acquainted and comfortable with not only department policy and procedure, but the community as well.
“He’s done all the work at NTC to get himself to the point where he knows the basics of law enforcement. Now its our job as his FTO’s to sharpen those basic skills, train him in department procedures and so on; to get him on track to be a City of Merrill Police Officer. Getting to know the community, as well as department staff is a big part of the FTO process,” he adds.
“We take pride in what Wyatt mentioned in terms of community support; getting out and making those positive contacts in the community is very important to us, even during the FTO process.”
Pufall is the third officer to be hired by the Merrill Department since last February, when vacancies opened as a result of staff retiremeents.