This past week would have been my uncle Arnie’s birthday. He passed away from cancer earlier this spring. Thinking about him makes me also think about my Grandfather. There is a theme that sort of runs through my family. That theme is law enforcement.

My Grandfather, Ed Wingenbach, spent many, many years in law enforcement. He started with the Mandan PD, and then later ran for Sheriff of Morton County. He served until 1975 when he failed to get re-elected. At the time he was the longest continual serving Sheriff Morton County had ever had. His twelve years as Sheriff were twice what anyone else had served since the county was founded in 1878, though Charles McDonald had more total years served (16) and Phil Helbling had as many split up over several instances. I believe the man who beat him that year, Leo Snider, then served until 2002.

Ed Wingenbach on Patrol for Mandan PD
Ed Wingenbach on Patrol for Mandan PD

Morton County Sheriff Ed Wingenbach
Morton County Sheriff Ed Wingenbach

His son, my uncle, Arnie Wingenbach, went through one of the earliest classes at the Law Enforcement Training Academy. Established in 1970, I believe he went through in about 1972 or 1973. He served for a short time out in Bowman, ND.

Arnie Wingenbach about 1974 or 1975
Arnie Wingenbach and I about 1974 or 1975
Arnie Wingenbach in uniform
Arnie Wingenbach in uniform

I started dispatching in 1998 for NDSU Campus Police before moving over to the West Fargo PD. My fifteen minutes of fame was when I had a young lady call one night asking where she could buy marijuana. After spending some time speaking to her and explaining several times that what she wanted to do was illegal she agreed to come down to the police department to buy the marijuana.


My father in law, Luis Coca, spent many years in law enforcement before finally retiring a few years ago. He spent time as Chief of Police in two different little towns in ND, Burlington and Rugby.

scan from law enforcement calendar
scan from law enforcement calendar

His son, my brother in law, also named Luis Coca, has continued the tradition and is now a sergeant with the Surrey PD.

Morton County Sheriff’s history (some dates are approximate because I couldn’t find a handy listing for them)

03/1878-02/1879   Allen W. Clark

03/1881-01/1883  W.A. Carr

01/1883-01/1889  George Harmon

01/1889-01/1895  George Bingenheimer

01/1895-01/1899  Charles McDonald

01/1899-01/1903  John C. Weekes

01/1903-01/1907  Charles Mcdonald

01-1907-01/1909  Henry Bechtold

01/1909-01/1913  Oscar Olson

01/1913-01/1917  Charles McDonald

01/1917-01/1921  Oscar Olson

01/1921-10/1922   Jack F. Brady

10/1922-01/1927   Charles McDonald

01/1927-01/1931   Henry Handtman

01/1931-01/1933   John Handtman, Jr.

01/1933-01/1937   Troy Gray

01/1937-01/1941   E.O. Lidstrom

01/1941-01/1945   Phil Helbling

01/1945-01/1949   E.O. Lidstrom

01/1949-01/1953   Phil Helbling

01/1953-01/1957   Kermit Ellisen

01/1957-01/1961   Phil Helbling

01/1961-01/1963   Kermit Ellisen

01/1963-01/1975   Ed Wingenbach

01/1975-~01/2002  Leo Snider

01/2002-~01/2006  Bob Erhardt

01/2006-01/2015    Dave Shipman

2015-Present           Kyle Kirchmeier