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New Police Chief to protect and serve citizens of New York Mills

Jim Van Schaick, the new Police Chief of New York Mills, prepares for a day of serving the community. "I really enjoy helping the people of a community. We don't need a pat on the back. Just seeing folks having their problems solved is thanks enough," he said.

The Police Department of New York Mills has a new Police Chief, a family man who has been involved in public safety for most of his adult life.

Born and raised in Thief River Falls, Jim Van Schaick first became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at the age of 19. He attended Paramedic School at Century College, and by the age of 22 was a paramedic.

As a youth, Van Schaick became involved in the Boy Scouts of America. His father James had passed away when he was only four years old, and his mother Bonnie helped him into the scouts for opportunities such as camping and fishing.

He quickly advanced through the ranks, and by the age of 15 he was an Eagle Scout. For his service project - the final step of becoming an Eagle Scout - he built benches at a senior housing facility.

"My service project was a means for a goal. Looking back at it now, it's a much greater thing for the community," he reflected.

Van Schaick had originally wanted to be a physician, he said, as he was exposed to the medical field at an early age with his mother being a nurse. Helping people was the biggest part of it, he said.

His formal decision for not going into medicine was missing the field work, protocols, and emergencies. "I really enjoy helping the people of a community. We don't need a pat on the back. Just seeing folks having their problems solved is thanks enough," he noted.

He managed an ambulance service from 1995-2001. He spent a few years as a dispatcher for Pennington County, and then moved into a uniformed position from 2001-2006 as a Pennington County Sheriff's Deputy.

When he finished his law enforcement training and passed the Minnesota Post Board Standards, he became an instructor of Public Safety Communications in Northland Community College's Law Enforcement program for seven years.

He moved out of uniform and became a criminal investigator. He became more involved with interviews, interrogations, evidence collection, executing search warrants, and follow up on cases.

Although it was a satisfying job, he noted, he found himself out of touch with the community.

"I spent most of my time in an office doing interviews, collecting evidence, going to court. My involvement with people changed over the years and I felt detached," he said.

First Impressions

"When I first came to New York Mills, I found a nice place for my children to live and to grow. People here have a high regard for living and loving life."

"The people you talk to are courteous and helpful. Everyone waved to us when we first arrived. People greet you when you walk down the street," he said with a smile.

"Even though we hold a position of authority, we're really here for the people," he said. "People are just so gracious. Even when I'm in plain clothes, I'm treated the same as I am in uniform."

To him and his family, the Cultural Center plays a large role in their lives. His boys read all of the time, and they had the opportunity to meet Mark Wood in Thief River Falls. Wood played "Orchestra Rocks", a show with electric violins that Van Schaick says opens up children to a new way of thinking.

Living Life and Loving Life

Chief Van Schaick is also a licensed pilot and has clocked over 500 hours since 1994. When asked why, he simply said with a smile, "I follow my dreams."

He's also fond of one of his instruments - a guitar striped, painted, and autographed by Eddie Van Halen, who played it in Hamilton, Ontario in 2004. He appreciates classical, country, rock, and many other types of musical talents.

He and his family also go geocaching. Put simply, geocaching is a "hide and seek" game, where people use Global Positioning System (GPS) systems to find hidden containers. There are also child-friendly events, he says. "It's a great family activity," he noted.

Along with his three children, he and his wife have another addition to their family. They adopted a two-year-old lasa apso and dachsund mix. Coconut was adopted from a litter that a dog at the humane society gave birth to.


Van Schaick replaced former Chief of Police Jason Hoaby, who accepted a position as Chief of Police with the Perham Police Department.

"This place is in great shape," he said, looking around. "The officers before me left it in great condition. Nothing has to be fixed and we have top of the line technologies," he said.

"I am honored to have been chosen to serve as your Chief of Police," he said. "My family and I look forward to the many new friends we are about to meet in the community we will call our home."