Highway Patrol settles into new positionsThe Dickinson District Highway Patrol has encountered a great deal of change in recent months. Not only have a number of officers been transferred in, out and around the patrol’s Southwest Region, William Vance was also promoted from a trooper to the rank of sergeant on Dec. 1, 2007.
By: Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
DICKINSON - The Dickinson District Highway Patrol has encountered a great deal of change in recent months. Not only have a number of officers been transferred in, out and around the patrol’s Southwest Region, William Vance was also promoted from a trooper to the rank of sergeant on Dec. 1, 2007.
After 13 years of patrol experience, Vance’s promotion was due to the advancement of former Dickinson Sgt. Eldon Mehrer, who was promoted to lieutenant and reassigned to the Highway Patrol Southeast Region in Jamestown.
Vance had to complete a series of procedures in order to become sergeant.
“The promotional process was a written test, an interview, some performance counseling and a writing exercise,” Vance said.
Fortunately, Vance has been stationed in Dickinson as trooper for almost nine years and was able to train with Mehrer before he was stationed in Jamestown.
“Stanley was my first post out of the academy,” Vance said. “After three years I was transferred to Dickinson.”
Vance is just beginning to get comfortable with his new responsibilities.
“It’s the same duties as the troopers with the addition of being their immediate supervisor. It’s a little different, but I look forward to the challenges this position will bring,” Vance said. “We have such a good crew here to work with. They make my adjustments easier.”
Vance grew up in Watford City, where he was first exposed to law enforcement.
“My dad has been chief of police in Watford (City) for 36 years,” Vance said.
Observing his father and the duties that go along with a police department helped Vance in his decision to become a part of the Highway Patrol.
“I always viewed them as very professional and well equipped and the couple of troopers I knew growing up were just really good guys,” Vance said.
He added while police officers are confined by many boundaries, the Highway Patrol offers more independence.
“It’s nice to be able to get out and roam you know and cover a lot of ground,” Vance said. “I love the freedom the job gives me.”
Vance received a two-year degree in criminal justice from Bismarck State College.
“When I went to college I knew that (law enforcement) was what I was going to do,” Vance said.
He is currently working on a four-year degree in university studies, which he hopes to complete this summer.
The sergeant position also requires Vance to complete 10 weeks of management training. He is unsure when he will fulfill this training requirement because the Highway Patrol Southwest Region still has one position open.
Vance is also busy supervising Trooper Troy Roth’s field training. Roth was recently assigned to the Highway Patrol Southwest Region and is stationed in Beach.
Trooper Shawn Skogen was reassigned to the Highway Patrol Southwest Region in Dickinson on Dec. 1, 2007, to fill Vance’s former position.
Skogen’s first duty post was in Watford City, where he worked for over three years. He was reassigned to Dickinson because of his desire to be a canine handler.
“I knew that the canine position was going to be open, so I transferred here,” Skogen said.
He wanted to work with a dog because of the opportunities the position offers.
“It opens up other aspects of this,” Skogen said. “You get to do a lot more than the other trooper duties.”
Troopers are not allowed to take the canine with them on duty until they get certified.
“We go through a week of training at Midwest Canine Alternatives in Minnesota. It’s specific to a canine handler,” Skogan said. “I got certified in the first week of January.”
Skogen’s new canine partner, Sadie, is a female black Labrador. Because the trooper holding the canine position doubles as the dog’s primary caregiver, in a way, Skogen has also acquired a new pet.
Not only does Sadie ride everywhere with Skogen when he is on duty, “She comes home with me and I take care of her,” Skogen said. “She stays in my house.”
Although she had previously lived with Vance, Skogen said it didn’t take long for Sadie to adjust to her new living arrangements.
“She warmed up to me really quickly,” Skogen said.
He said Sadie is just like a normal dog, except she has been trained for law enforcement.
“Some dogs like to play fetch, she likes to sniff out narcotics,” Skogen said.
There are a total of nine dogs used across the state for North Dakota’s Highway Patrol, but Sadie is the only canine in Dickinson’s district.
Although he was always interested in law enforcement, Skogen wanted to earn a degree that would give him many career options. A Hettinger native, he received a Bachelor of Science in Animal and Range Science from North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Trooper Chris Messer also earned a degree that offered many opportunities. He received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in history from Dickinson State University, which has proven to be a beneficial asset.
“I’ve been around it my whole life, so I knew I wanted to be part of the Highway Patrol all along,” Messer said. “I have the ability to use it (his degree) here. It’s a useful tool.”
Messer was reassigned to Dickinson to replace Dean Franchuk, who retired in March 2006. Although his reassignment was effective July 1, 2007, Messer did not move to Dickinson until Dec. 5. He drove from New Salem, where he had been stationed since February 2001, causing a bit of a time conflict for Dickinson’s District Office.
“We had to make due with what we had at the time, but we were short,” said Anthony Huck, captain of the Dickinson District Office. “We had to make other arrangements to make sure we had proper coverage.”
Messer has specialized training in crash reconstruction. By using certain measurements and tools he is able to reconstruct the scene of a crash.
He is also currently supervising Eric Hassebrock’s field training. Hassebrock was recently stationed in Bowman.