After more than 30 years on the job, Mark Dressen, has announced he will be retiring from the Redwood Falls Police Department at the end of the month.

Dressen, who has served as the chief of police for the city for nearly two decades, submitted his letter of resignation to the Redwood Falls city council, which was accepted at its meeting this past Tuesday night. 

“Submitting my resignation was not an easy decision having served 30-plus years as a Redwood Falls police officer,” wrote Dressen. “Words cannot express the gratitude and pride I received serving our community. This was more than a job to me, it was a place to make a difference. Thank you for the opportunity to make a difference, build memories and lifelong relationships.”

Dressen’s resignation is effective as of the end of August.

Corey Theis, Redwood Falls mayor, expressed words of thanks to Dressen for his years of service and wished him the best of luck. Other members of the council and city staff echoed those sentiments.

“Mark has done a wonderful job for the community,” said Keith Muetzel, city administrator.

Having accepted the resignation, the city council then took action to move forward with the process to begin the search for a replacement, and officially secured the services of David Drown Associates to assist the city in its search.

Muetzel spoke with two entities which submitted proposals to serve in that role, and the proposal from David Drown Associates, with a cost of $15,000, was accepted by the council.

There was also a brief discussion regarding the option of doing the search internally versus hiring an outside firm, but members of the council agreed with city staff that this was an important enough role that it wanted to proceed with outside assistance.

Muetzel said the role of police chief is a high profile position in a community, adding the person in that spot likely has the most contact with city residents of anyone who serves the community.

In a time when being in law enforcement is not as attractive as it once may have been, city leadership recognizes this process may be a bit of a challenge.

Muetzel also recommended as part of the process that the city council update the police chief job description, adding it has not been evaluated for 20 years simply because there was no need.

Now that the city will be looking to hire someone new in that position is a good time to take a look at updating that, Muetzel added.

John Buckley, city council member, said it is a sign of the times that fewer people are applying for jobs in law enforcement.

“It is crucial that we get this right,” said Muetzel. Jim Sandgren, city council member, said he liked the idea of getting people from the police commission and the community involved in the process, too.

Muetzel said it is also a good idea to involve the current law enforcement personnel in that process in some capacity as well.

Is there a possibility someone internally could move into the role?

Muetzel said as part of that process the city needs to treat every potential candidate equally.

No specific timeline of hiring was discussed, but Muetzel stressed time is of the essence, reiterating the fact that the city has one month before Dressen retires.