Paynesville has new police chief-Tony Schmitt

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 5/20/97.

With the retirement of Police Chief Bill Drager on today (May 21), Police officer Tony Schmitt will step into the role of Paynesville Police Chief.

A native of Paynesville, Schmitt was promoted to the position from within the department. He has worked in law enforcement 22 years.

Schmitt is a 1969 graduate of Paynesville Area High School, attended St. Cloud State University and Arden Hills Police Academy. Upon graduation from the academy, he was hired by Paynesville Township. When the township contracted with the city for law enforcement in March of 1992, Schmitt joined the Paynesville Police Department.

ďI went into law enforcement because I thought it would be an interesting occupation, challenging and ever changing,Ē Schmitt said.
ďAs the new police chief, I plan to follow the same procedures that Chief Drager set, one being the open door policy. ďI donít believe in making changes to make changes,Ē he added.

ďI plan on staying active in the schools, especially at the elementary level. This is an important level for the students as they start feeling more and more peer pressure.Ē

Schmitt said he plans on continuing to use the common sense approach to law enforcement in a small community.

Over the years, Schmitt has noticed that law enforcement has become more dangerous on a daily basis, police officers are seeing the use of more weapons and drugs in communities.

ďThe state is requiring officers to maintain more policies all the time and to do more paper work,Ē Schmitt said. ďOne major change in the Paynesville area is that more and more people are moving into the community, making a more diverse population.Ē

Schmitt and his wife, Janice, have two children: Heather, a college freshman, and Corey, an eighth grader. He lists hunting, fishing and farming as his interests.

ďI plan on continuing the work Chief Drager started with the Explorer program and to continue working closely with the township,Ē Schmitt said.

The city is in the process of hiring a new police officer to fill the vacancy left by his promotion to chief.

Bill Drager was sworn in a police chief in September of 1993, replacing Chief Bob Schmiginsky.

Drager, a native of Paynesville, served in the Navy from 1960 to 1962 on an aircraft carrier and returned home in December of 1962. He worked for Cold Spring Granite a year, then with Culligan in town for nine and a half years. Drager also served with the local civil defense and as a Paynesville Township constable.

His career with the Paynesville Police Department started on Nov. 1, 1973. Over the years, he has attended trianing courses at the Alexandria Vocational Technical Institute and completed numerous continuing education classes.

Drager enjoys working with kids and promoting safety programs. Over the years he has led bike safety courses, finger printing programs, Operation ID, talked to school classes, day care centers and preschool youngsters.

He has worked with the Paynesville Area Senior Citizens and area businesses conducting an annual bad check program. Drager said his philosophy in life is to treat people with respect.

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