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Atwater, Minn., police chief planning to retire Aug. 1

ATWATER -- Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt is retiring, effective Aug. 1.

Schmidt submitted his letter of resignation Wednesday night to the Atwater City Council.

"It's a definite loss to us," said Mayor Mark Olson. "He's been an outstanding police chief for 14 years."

Schmidt's career in law enforcement began in 1975.

Schmidt, 62, said he is retiring to spend more time with his grandchildren.

"I have enjoyed my years of service with the city and it has been a part of my life as I have watched young people grow from children into young adults and become a part of the community," wrote Schmidt in his letter of resignation, which he said he was submitting "with a heavy heart."

He said that over the years, he not only gave his time to the town but also "a portion of my body," referring to a 2006 incident when Schmidt, while on duty, was brutally attacked by a young Atwater man.

Schmidt lost an eye as a result of the assault.

His canine partner at the time, Max, was also injured in the assault and later died of a stroke that Schmidt linked to the injuries.

In 2007, Schmidt was given the Medal of Honor by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association for his actions in the assault for demonstrating "personal bravery, heroism, intelligence, alertness, presence of mind, and/or self-sacrifice so inspiring that it clearly distinguishes the individual for gallantry and bravery above comrades."

Schmidt also took a one-year leave of absence from his job in Atwater, from 2004-05, to work for a private corporation to train police officers in Iraq.

Although Schmidt will serve as police chief until Aug. 1, he intends to use vacation days which mean his last day of active duty will likely be July 9.

"I know that with my resignation I will be leaving the department that I love with strong leadership and many of the ideas that have made our department so successful over the past years will continue," he wrote.

Olson said the council is looking at options for filling the vacancy. The city has two other police officers on staff.

Olson said the council is committed to maintaining its own police department and that there are no plans to contract with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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