Forum editorial: Kudos to two law enforcement stalwarts, Bergquist and Laney
They’ve dealt with record floods, countless blizzards, crimes too numerous to list, prairie fires, explosive train derailments, jail administration and all of the other duties that fall under the jurisdiction of county sheriff. Between them, Sheriff Bill Bergquist of Clay County and Sheriff Paul Laney of Cass County have many decades of law enforcement experience. And in a fluke of timing, both of these seasoned professionals will retire and take off their badges soon. Both men have served ably and with distinction and will leave solid legacies for their successors.
Bergquist, 60, has served in law enforcement for 38 years. Early in his career, he was a police officer in Glyndon and Dilworth, also serving as a Moorhead police officer for a dozen years before he was elected sheriff in 2002. He’s been a volunteer firefighter even longer than he’s been a law enforcement officer, beginning in 1976 while he was still in high school.
As a boy, Bergquist tried on the role of a cop early, attaching a red light to his tricycle and another when he graduated to a bicycle. He never considered any other line of work, quipping that “I’ve been a cop since the day I was born.”
A hallmark of Bergquist’s performance — an attribute shared with Laney — is dedication to the job. Bergquist was often on the scene with his deputies. He seemed more at home in a squad car than behind a desk. Bergquist also stood out for his accessibility to the public. He was always available to take a reporter’s call. That’s a trait we hope his successor, and Laney’s, will take to heart.
Laney, 52, also has been a hands-on sheriff. Before he was elected 12 years ago, he served as a Fargo police officer and before that as a Marine. Laney’s enthusiasm for his role as the county’s top cop was evident and he seems to relish a challenge. He certainly confronted his share of challenges, including the fiery train derailment near Casselton, the record 2009 flood and a 100-car pileup on Interstate 94.
Most recently, Laney served as a senior commander in policing the massive, prolonged protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. He recently told a reporter that law enforcement was never really a job.
“It was a passion I got to live and got paid to do it,” Laney said.
With almost seven decades of law enforcement service behind them, and the wealth of experience they’ve accumulated, both sheriffs will be missed and will leave big boots to fill. We thank them for their service and wish them well in retirement.