On Monday, March 5, Kodi Pirkel became the newest member of the Merrill Police Department.
“Merrill’s location and being the City of Parks is what attracted me most,” the 25-year old Watertown native explains. “Watertown is a little bigger than Merrill but also has a lot of parks, so the city reminds me a lot of home. Being in the Northwoods was a big factor for me, too. My parents have a cabin near Tomahawk, so I vacationed in this area with my family since I was a child. I love anything related to the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to four-wheeling.”
Following graduation from high school in Watertown, Kodi attended Vermilion Community College in northern Minnesota, graduating with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. Following graduation, Kodi moved on to attend the law enforcement academy at Rhinelander’s Nicolet Technical College.
Last week marked Pirkel’s completion of the first week of the department’s 16-week Field Training Program. As Field Training Officer and 7-year department veteran Josh McCaskill explains, the department’s field training program consists of four phases to prepare officers for solo patrol. Each phase incorporates skills learned in the previous phase, in addition to development of additional skills and knowledge.
“Phase one, which Kodi is now working his way through, consists of basics such as department policy and procedure, traffic stops and familiarization with the city and city ordinances,” McCaskill said. “As he advances to phase two and additional phases, he will be asked to use the knowledge and skills he has learned already, in addition to new material such as more complex investigations, interviewing and OWI procedure, for example,” McCaskill adds.
As Pirkel advances through the field training process, he will be paired with Field Training Officers Tyler Tesch, an 11-year department veteran and certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), and Eric Soberg, a six-year veteran of the department.
McCaskill estimates Pirkel will complete the field training program and be on solo patrol by this summer.
“I chose law enforcement as a career as it allows me an opportunity to help people,” Kodi explains. “I enjoy being involved in my community, and I have learned the Merrill Police Department is very community oriented. The department is very involved in community events and I am really excited to be a part of that. The job of a police officer is different with every call and is changing all the time in terms of new trends and new information, so I’m looking forward to those aspects, too. It’s only been a couple weeks but the job has been everything I hoped for and then some. I’ve definitely learned a lot!”