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Longtime Cass County lawman Argall retires

FARGO - From a riot at the Red River Fair with baseball bats that landed one person in the hospital, to the teacher who commuted to South Dakota at 100-plus mph, you'd think Mike Argall would have had enough of people.

Mike Argall, left, and former Cass County Sheriff Don Rudnick
Cass County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Argall, left, receives a hug from his former boss Don Rudnick at his retirement party and open house in his honor Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at the Cass County Courthouse in Fargo. Argall retired from the Sheriff's Office after 35 years of service.

FARGO - From a riot at the Red River Fair with baseball bats that landed one person in the hospital, to the teacher who commuted to South Dakota at 100-plus mph, you'd think Mike Argall would have had enough of people.

But after more than three decades of that kind of stuff, he still hasn't lost his faith in humanity.

"Most of the people we deal with are honest, hardworking people who sometimes make mistakes," said Argall, a captain with the Cass County Sheriff's Department who retired on Monday.

Those two high-profile cases - one a 20- to 30-person fight at the 2006 Red River Fair that led to several convictions and one man's deportation - aren't what Argall remembers when he talks about his years on the force.

Instead, it's all the times he's helped someone. It was that impulse that propelled him into his 35-year career in law enforcement with the sheriff's department.

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It's what kept him coming back, day after day, with stints as the civil and patrol division commander, and in his last several years as head of special projects, including crime prevention, community service and emergency preparation.

Argall, who followed in the footsteps of his father-in-law, a Fargo police officer, also helped lead the push a decade ago to create a task force to find underage kids using fake IDs, in order to combat the sexual assaults, alcohol poisoning and car crashes that sometimes accompany their use.

"I've always wanted to work with people," he said. "For me, public relations is the number one thing. Work with people, educate them."

Argall, who was honored at a retirement ceremony on Tuesday, said a lot has changed in his years on the force. When he started, many of the calls involved issuing warnings and talking to people.

"They needed to talk," he said.

He provided a listening ear more than a ride to jail, he said. Even more seldom did things turn violent.

"I think I've wrestled with two people in my career," Argall said.

Now, with the county's population expansion, and the linguistic and cultural diversity of its people, the opportunities to connect aren't always there for deputies, he said.

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"Running from call to call, I'm not sure they have time to do that," he said.

After leaving the Sheriff's Department, Argall plans to work with Prairie Supply, a contractor in West Fargo. It's a way to keep working with people, he said, although not in the same way.

"Thirty-five years, my family shared me with the community. It's time," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541

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