Somerset officer leaves to pursue new career
Officer Adam Wojciehowski has been with the Somerset Police Department for 11 years, having gotten the job right after graduating from college.
"Actually, it's been 11 years, and three months," he said, after a quick count on his fingers.
Wojciehowski, an officer known around Somerset Village Hall for his quick smile and good humor, will be leaving the Somerset Police Department on Nov. 11 to pursue a job in the private sector.
Looking back on his police experience, he cited several things that he considers major accomplishments.
Part of his job had been to revitalize the school resource officer position for the Somerset school district.
"When I was hired, that position didn't really exist," he said. "Being able to build that from the ground up" is what he said he is most proud of doing.
He has also joined the St. Croix EMS and Rescue Dive team out of Hudson - a nationally certified underwater crime scene investigation team that has several technical certifications for current diving.
He and his other team members were honored by the St. Paul Police Department with the Chief's Award for their role in recovering two handguns from the St. Croix River. One was positively identified as a murder weapon in the case of a St. Paul man who was killed during an attempted robbery in 2008. The guns were then thrown into the river near Hudson. With the help of the recovered murder weapon, Lee D. Murray, then 30, was convicted of second-degree murder on Nov. 5, 2009.
"Due to the length of time in the water and the uncertain location where the weapons were thrown into the water, we really didn't expect to find them," Wojciehowski said at the time.
The dive team also helped when the I-35W Bridge collapsed in August 2007.
"We dove 12 hours that day," he recalled. "The collapse landed at an angle - not flat on the bottom - and because it's a river, it creates a vortex. Both of us (he and another senior dive member) almost got sucked under, but because of our training, we were able to quickly alter our course."
Another major accomplishment has been serving as the deputy emergency manager for Somerset Village.
When Chief Doug Briggs was appointed the emergency manager for Somerset Village about five years ago, the rest of the department was required by FEMA to take online classes as well. Wojciehowski was so interested in the process that he continued on and earned a degree in emergency management from Fredrick Community College this summer, as well as becoming certified in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.
"The portion that appealed to me is the administration collaboration," said Wojciehowski. "You work with people in devising plans, building a network for when an emergency happens, knowing who does what ... making all a fluid movement."
He said emergency management is made of four parts: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
"The response phase always gets the glory, but if the other three don't work, it would be disastrous."
When he saw an Internet advertisement for emergency management in the private sector, he "threw his name in" though he didn't think he'd get a call back.
He was surprised when he was offered the new Emergency Response Coordinator for U.S. Operations position at Enbridge Inc., a Canadian oil pipeline company with offices in Superior.
Thanks to his five years of emergency management experience, leaving the duties of being a police officer won't be so difficult for him.
"To be honest, I've worked pounding the streets (as a patrolling officer) so that is out of my system," he confessed. "Enbridge has never had this position before and they want to be proactive so they don't have a disaster like BP did in 2010. It will be exciting to build this from the ground up."
He plans to take time off from all his other business ventures, such as the classes he teaches at WITC, running Wojo's Designs Inc. - his web-design business, being a partner in the Alliance Education Group and volunteering with the St. Croix EMS and Rescue Dive Team, for about six months to get used to his new job. However, he does plan to come back to help the Somerset Police Department on a part-time basis.
"I can still be a police officer working on busy weekends, during concerts," said Wojciehowski. "I can always fill in for a full-time officer if the need arises."
Chief Briggs said that he looks forward to seeing what kind of experience Wojciehowski brings back.
"On top of his doing a great job as an officer, he's done a great job with the emergency management," said Briggs. "That's something we can look forward to with his coming back. It's a win-win situation for the department and the officer."
"I've always loved working with the people here," said Wojciehowski. "This new job will be a challenge, but I am looking forward to creating something successful."