by Dennis Dalman
After serving the city of Sartell for 32 years, Police Chief Jim Hughes will retire March 31.
In his more than three decades as police chief, Hughes saw the city’s boom growth from a couple thousand residents to more than 20,000. Hughes was preceded by police chiefs Robert Ringstrom and by Jerry O’Driscoll, who served from the mid-1960s until 1993, after which point Ringstrom was hired. He served until 2004.
At the Jan. 9 city-council meeting, Hughes read his resignation letter after which he received bouquets of praise from the council members.
While reading the letter, Hughes paused twice, choked up by emotion.
“My favorite part of being with the Sartell Police Department is that we’ve remained committed to our community via outreach programs and the interaction we have with residents on a daily basis,” Hughes said. “I wish people knew all the extras officers do – like shoveling walkways, getting a front door donated for someone in need, stopping for a quick snowball fight with youth and many other things that go unseen. Officers aren’t looking for gratitude. It’s just the type of officers we have working at Sartell P.D., and I am so proud of that.”
Hughes began working for the department 32 years ago and served the last 19 years as its police chief. During his time with the Sartell police force, he was a field training officer, a sergeant and a lieutenant before being named chief. Before moving to Sartell, for 10 years he was a patrol officer in Kasson in southeast Minnesota and an interim police chief for Claremont, also in southeast Minnesota’s Dodge County.
Sartell Mayor Ryan Fitzthum and other council members lavished Hughes with thanks and gratitude for helping make the Sartell Police Department such an excellent organization that serves the residents and protects public safety.
In his letter, Hughes thanked the current and previous city councils, city staff and city administration for the fine working relationships and for their support for the police department and its personnel.
Sartell’s force is topnotch, Hughes said, adding he would put it up among the finest police forces anywhere. He praised Deputy Chief Wayne Schreiner, whom he said worked diligently with him and with others during the transition time after Hughes’ decision to retire. He told the council he hopes they will “recruit from within” and appoint Schreiner as the next police chief.
“Leadership,” Hughes said, “is about setting good examples and allowing those who work around you the opportunity and trust to enhance their knowledge and provide growth in their respective roles in the department and to mold into future leaders. The ideas brought forth by department members over the years have made the department more efficient and effective in our policing strategies.”
He also thanked the “Sartell community for its support and for often reaching out at perfect times to pick up our spirits and to support our programs when needed.”