Deputy Richard promoted to sergeant
For some people, choosing a career is something that almost seems predestined from the moment they were born.
But for the Becker County Sheriff's Department's newly minted sergeant, Shane Richard, the process took a bit longer than that.
After graduating from high school in his native West Fargo, "I took a few years to decide what I wanted to do in life," he says.
But after having some conversations with his cousin, Paul Laney -- who at that time worked as a cop for the Fargo Police Department, and is currently the sheriff of Cass County -- Richard decided that he would try a ride-along.
"I knew within an hour or two that this was what I wanted to do with my life," says Richard, who has been a deputy with the Becker County Sheriff's Department since November of 1999.
That first ride-along was a thrilling, "action-packed" experience, Richard says.
"I thought, 'Wow, this is a lot of fun -- better than cable TV!'" he joked.
So he signed up for a second ride-along -- which was a different experience altogether.
"There was a girl who was beaten bloody by her boyfriend... she was very emotionally distraught," he recalls. "There was another elderly woman who called us because she thought her husband had passed away in bed. I saw a lot more of the emotional, sad side of law enforcement."
During those two ride-alongs, Richard says, "I saw two complete opposite sides of law enforcement. I think it was good to see the more negative side, and see if I was the kind of person who could handle that."
Though the experience "wasn't fun," Richard says, he wasn't turned off by it.
"Somebody has to do these things -- comfort families, call the pastor and so forth," he says.
Richard decided that law enforcement was the right career path for him, so he spent the next two years completing an associate degree in law enforcement at Alexandria Technical College.
After graduating, he spent 11 months with the Dilworth Police Department before applying and being hired for a full-time deputy's position with Becker County.
"I thought this was going to be stepping stone," Richard says, admitting that he had at one time thought to get a law enforcement position in a bigger city.
"Within the first week or two (with Becker County), I was like, 'I'm here to stay,'" Richard says. "I fell in love with the area, and the people, and this department is a great place to work."
Thirteen years later, "I still enjoy coming to work every day," he adds.
Richard says the thing he enjoys most about the job is that "you never know what's going to come across that radio. It's very unpredictable."
He also finds that keeping up with all the changes in case law and investigative techniques can be equally challenging.
"You're always learning in this job," he said. "They expect us to wear so many different hats -- from first response (at the scene of an accident) to crash reporting, collecting DNA evidence, taking photos... and making sure that when you do have to go to court, you win those cases."
When he's not busy working, Richard lives on the west end of Becker County with his companion of 12 years, and the four children they share between them.
"We just had twins two years ago," he says, adding that in his spare time, he also enjoys bird and deer hunting, snowmobiling and other outdoor activities.
While there are "certain things you miss" about the single life, like "having more time to spend with the guys," Richard says his family has become his first priority.
"I wouldn't give them up for the world," he says.
About a month ago, Richard was promoted from deputy to sergeant, replacing Mark Gagnon, who retired from that position. He went through a series of interviews for the position, and also had to submit a written application.
"There are about six of us who went through the process," he says.
Though he doesn't spend as much time on patrol as he used to since taking on the sergeant's position, Richard is still an active deputy who is responsible for handling a certain percentage of the calls that come in while he's on duty.
"I just do a little more on the administrative side," he says.
And his enthusiasm for the work hasn't changed.
"There are maybe a handful of days that haven't been good, things that happen that you have to take home and process," says Richards. "But by the next day, I can't wait to put that uniform back on again... I have the greatest job in the world."
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.