Diagnosed with PTSD, Chief Scharf says he will focus on his mental health

by Jeff Hage

APG of East Central Minnesota

Big Lake Police Chief Joel Scharf is resigning after nearly 9 years as head of the Big Lake Police Department.

Scharf’s last day as police chief will be May 27.

Scharf stated in a April 23 resignation letter that he is resigning to concentrate on his mental well-being. Scharf stated that in January he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He has been on medical leave since that diagnosis.

“Unfortunately, this diagnosis will keep me from returning to my position indefinitely,” Scharf stated.

A native of Devils Lake, North Dakota, Scharf has been involved in law enforcement his entire adult life, when he became a reserve office with the Devils Lake Police Department. Prior to that, he was a member of that police department’s police explorer program.

Scharf would go on to become a member of the police departments in Grafton, North Dakota and Valley City, North Dakota before crossing the state line into Minnesota where, in 1995, he was hired as a police officer in Moorhead. Scharf would be promoted to the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant. He was also the assistant commander of the Red River Valley SWAT team.

In 2012, Scharf was hired as the chief of police in Big Lake.

Being the police chief of Big Lake has “hands down been the best part of my life,” Scharf stated in his resignation letter.

He is grateful for the support he and his department have received from the Big Lake community, city administration and the city council. However, Scharf added that the greatest support he has received over the course of his career has come from his wife Sarah.

In giving a nod of support to the team comprising the Big Lake Police Department, the police chief referred to his team as the very best officers and staff that his profession has to offer..

Scharf stated that he will always have a passion for law enforcement, calling the profession the most noble of callings.

But the profession also takes a toll on those who serve, he stated.

In his resignation letter Scharf asked city leaders to care for the city’s officers and appreciate all that the profession is throwing at them in what he called these unprecedented times.

In closing, Scharf stated that it has been a pleasure to serve the City of Big Lake while adding that he is thankful for the friendships, partnerships, support, and collaboration that has continually made Big Lake one of the safest cities in Minnesota.

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