Tom Pitzl has worked as a Roseville police officer for nearly two decades serving in nearly every role. Pitzl has worked as a patrol officer, supervising sergeant, detective, and hostage/crisis negotiator.
But Pitzl said some of the most meaningful moments of his law enforcement career occurred during everyday conversations with Roseville residents and youngsters.
“A few years ago, I filled in as the school resource officer at Roseville Area High School. It was fantastic,” Pitzl said. “It reminded how we need to keep focusing on our positive relationships with kids and the community. It was life changing.”
Tom will now be focused on those community connections and conversations full-time as Roseville Police Department’s new Community Relations Specialist. Tom, who gave up his rank and salary as a sergeant, said he pursued the non-sworn position because he feels passionately about working in Roseville and helping foster the relationship between officers and the community they serve.
“Tom’s strengths of meeting new people and making connections will be a perfect fit in his new role as the Community Relations Specialist,” said Police Chief Erika Scheider. “It is bittersweet to see Tom stepping away from sworn law enforcement, but I am really excited to see him take on this new challenge and help build on and expand our community outreach initiatives. “
In his new role, Tom oversees community events including Night to Unite in August and Shop with a Cop during the holidays. He’s handling the department’s social media and media relations. He is also the staff liaison for Roseville Police Department’s Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC). The resident advisory group, established in 2020, fosters honest, ongoing, and focused conversations between members of the community, police officers and other city staff in Roseville.
Tom grew up in neighboring Shoreview and graduated from Totino Grace High School.
“I always liked Roseville. I played sports here. I had family here. I spent a lot of time here at the mall, restaurants, and parks,” Tom said.
He knew he wanted to go into law enforcement as a young child.
“My parents taught us if you were ever scared, hurt, or worried, you could always find a police officer and they would help you. That stuck with me,” Tom said.
He worked at a convenience store in high school and met officers who took him on ride-alongs and mentored him. Tom earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Cloud State University. He worked a series of campus and parks security and parking enforcement jobs during college.
Those early positions, where he had to rely solely on his communication skills to work with fellow college students and the public, proved to be some of the best training for his future career as a cop.
Tom was hired as a Roseville police officer in 2005 and jumped into several roles including use-of-force instructor and field training officer. He was forced to put his career on hold in 2009 when he started suffering from lightheadedness and was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal and potentially fatal tangle of blood vessels in his brain that typically develops before birth.
At age 27, Tom underwent several brain surgeries, spent a month in the hospital and a year on light duty before returning to work as an officer.
“That really sidelined me,” Tom said. It also changed his perspective and how he approached his first responder role.
“It just gave me even more empathy for people going through tough stuff,” he said. “It can really throw a wrench into your plans.”
He earned his master’s degree in public safety leadership from the University of St. Thomas in 2014. That was also a bit of a revelation because through that coursework he realized he drew the most job satisfaction from building and fostering community relations. He also saw how taking the time to listen to residents, answer questions, and explain what was happening during police calls had a profound and positive effect on police-community relations.
When the civilian community relations position opened last spring, Tom said he knew he needed to apply. The married father of three, said the professional pivot creates some room in their family schedule so his wife, a nurse supervisor, can further pursue her career ambitions.
“I'm excited for this next chapter of my career working with great people in a great community!”
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