Pierz native comes home to serve as police officer

Calvin Tschida, left, is the new full-time officer in Pierz. Police Chief Eric Hanneken said Tschida will be a good fit as he is a Pierz native and came with the highest recommendations, not just because of his abilities, but because of his character.

It was always Calvin Tschida’s intention to move “back home” to Pierz. After 10 years, he’s back, and has been sworn in as the city’s new police officer.

He replaces Jason Loscheider, who resigned his full-time position a few months ago. Since then, Pierz Police Chief Eric Hanneken has been working in “overdrive,” with lots of part-time help from Morrison County deputies.

During his 10 years away from Pierz (he graduated from Healy High in 2007), Tschida first attended St. Cloud Technical for carpentry. But just for a year.

“I still enjoy carpentry,” he said. “The skills I learned there are pretty nice.”

Tschida, who said he has many relatives in law enforcement, decided to change his course of study. The stories he heard from those family members were interesting and they found the work challenging. They all enjoyed what they did, Tschida said.

He made the change to attend college in Alexandria for law enforcement. After graduating from that two-year program, he attended the University of Minnesota in Crookston for a semester, eventually transferring to the metro campus.

He had on-the-job training as a service officer in Apple Valley, while he completed his four-year degree.

For the past four years, Tschida has worked for the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, serving 75,000 residents.

“It’s quite a bit bigger than Morrison County. The Sheriff’s Office contracted with all of the cities in Carver, except Chaska,” said Tschida. “We served the bulk of the county.”

What Tschida likes most about law enforcement is the variety of work and being involved with people.

Sometimes that entails not so pleasant situations with people he knows personally.

“I hope I’m not put into a lot of those situations, but it’s bound to happen in a small community,” he said. “I truly believe it’s just business and you have to remain fair and professional; I think that that’s the most important.”

What he is most looking forward to, outside of being near old friends and lots of family, is working with kids.

“The school district here was good when I went here, and I know it’s changed in the last 10 years,” said Tschida. “It’s unreal.”

“I think that law enforcement in general has tools that nobody else has that we can use to get involved in people’s lives,” he said. For a positive influence, the earlier the better, he said.

“Working as a canine handler for the last part of my time down there, was a ticket into every school and every classroom to do visits,” he said.

Working with his canine, “Recon,” Tschida said he was able to visit with kids from pre-school on up.

“Obviously, there is a different message to be given to the different age groups, but having that dog and having that as an excuse to get in there was so nice,” he said

Recon is now part of the Tschida family as their pet, now that he is medically retired.

Tschida, who was once a certified first responder, plans to renew his certification, adding to the force of first responders already in the area.

That’s because in emergency situations, seconds count, he said.

“You get there as a first responder so much sooner and I’ve been part of far too many incidents where seconds matter,” Tschida said.

His dad, Don, was a first responder for years when he was younger.

“What they can do when time truly matters is a difference between saving a life and not,” Tschida said.

Hanneken values that skill as an asset as well.

“Pierz is gifted with a great first response team, but at times, when people work — and we all do — sometimes we’re the only ones (to respond). The community counts on us a lot.”

Hanneken, who has been introducing Tschida to area groups, said he’s eager to work on a schedule to allow Tschida time in the schools, both at Holy Trinity and Pioneer Elementary.

The chief is confident Tschida is the right person for the job.

Although Hanneken knew members of Tschida’s family, he didn’t know him specifically.

So he did a little homework, talking to those who did know Tschida. And Hanneken learned he  was respected.

“I didn’t know Calvin from Adam,” Hanneken said. “But the quality and character I heard about him as an officer — and as a man — is what I liked.

“He’s someone who wants to come back to Pierz, his home community. He’s got great experience from the Metro to bring here. He’s someone who wants to retire here,” Hanneken said.

His hope is that Tschida will take over as chief when he retires, someday.

Tschida said Hanneken has made his transition a smooth one.

“He allowed me time to tie up all my loose ends down there, to uproot the whole family, sell a house and all that. He allowed me that time and we stayed in contact the whole time,” Tschida said.

He is anxious to bring his wife, Melissa, and son, Owen, 9, to Pierz. They are still at their home in New Germany.

Once they move, Melissa, the security lead for Target Corporate, will be looking for a job, too.

She is a Navy veteran and earned a degree in criminal justice.

“When she was in the Navy, her assignment was master of arms, the equivalent of the military police,” Tschida said.

That’s helpful for their family life, he said.

“She can walk the walk and talk the talk,” he said. “She understands better than almost anybody when space is needed and when she needs to push to be there; she’s fantastic.”

“This is home; it always was. I had always planned to come back, I just didn’t know when,” Tschida said.

His parents, Don and Mary, are happy to have him home, too.

“Calvin has always been proud of this area and his rural upbringing. We know he is grateful for the opportunity to come back home and to serve the people of the Pierz area,” Don and Mary said.