by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Royalton resident and St. Cloud police lieutenant Tom Justin announced today that he will be filing to run for Morrison County Sheriff.
“Since Michel Wetzel has indicated he will not be running this year, I will be filing,” Justin said. “From my perspective, Michel is doing a fine job. His not filing provided me with an opportunity I could not pass up. I want to be the sheriff and give back to this county.”
Justin grew up in Royalton and has spent the majority of his life there. With the exception of time spent as a military policeman in the Army and some years at the beginning of his law enforcement career, he has been a Royalton resident. He moved his family back in 2001, wanting his four children to grow up “in the rural atmosphere of Royalton.”
Justin started his law enforcement career as a military policeman in the Army. As a civilian, he was hired by the St. Stephen Police Department. He joined the St. Cloud Police Department in 1989.
He is a current member and former president of the Royalton School Board.
“I hope my record of service to the district speaks for itself,” said Justin. “I worked hard with the board to get free all-day every day kindergarten off the ground and it turned a languishing district into a thriving district. That’s growth. It’s a great district to be in.”
“I’m very proactive,” Justin said. “I like to convert challenges into opportunities. I go into things with the intent to succeed.”
Justin would like to take his years of law enforcement experience and put it all to work for Morrison County.
“I would like to continue what Michel started with collaborative policing,” he said. “I’m energized at the thought of working with local law enforcement in Little Falls, Royalton, Pierz and Motley. One of my goals is to get out there and support them – find out what the sheriff’s office can do to help them.”
Justin’s main focus would be on crime prevention and getting to kids before they become criminals.
“I have a vision of doing more enhancement of the youth mentoring programs,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in school resource officers. I would like to have an officer in every school in Morrison County, supporting the local police departments in doing that. Prevention starts at a young age and it’s critical to get to them before they become criminals.
“It’s a great opportunity to take my life experiences in law enforcement and the collaborative nature of what I do and use it to serve the county,” he said. “I’ve worked for a city with more than 100 officers and a budget of more than $10 million. I’ve supervised the criminal investigation unit, drug units and the community crime impact team. I’ve developed programs like the traffic enforcement program and was part of the start-up and later supervised the SWAT team.”
Justin also worked with Morrison County in getting the 800 megahertz communications system up and running.
Justin’s wife, Heidi, and their four children are behind him all the way.
“If it wasn’t for my wife being in full support, I wouldn’t be running,” Justin said. “I’ve wanted to come back to Morrison County for a while. I’m very excited. I really look forward to the challenge, to serving. I would be a working sheriff. I have a full tank and I’m ready to go.”