West Grad Retires from Merrill Police Dept

West Grad Retires from Merrill Police Dept
Posted on 12/10/2020
This is the image for the news article titled West Grad Retires from Merrill Police DeptMPD’s Wunsch calls it a career

DECEMBER 9, 20200

Merrill Foto News
Jeremy Ratliff - Editor

The turn of the new year will also mean a ‘turning of the page’ of sorts for Lieutenant Investigator Pat Wunsch of the Merill Police Department. Effective Dec. 31, Wunsch will retire and close the chapter on a law enforcement career spanning 25 years.

A Wausau native and Class of 1986 graduate of Wausau-West High School, Wunsch was a tradesman before setting his sights on a career in law enforcement. After following in his father’s footsteps and becoming an electrician, Wunsch shifted his focus to the building trades and construction, where he worked for four years before pursuing law enforcement.

“Law enforcement was always something I had an interest in, but I also enjoyed the construction field. I credit my uncle who was a patrol sargent with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for inspiring my interest in the profession,” Pat explains.

“He was always in a good mood and was just a fun person to be around, with plenty of stories of course. So as a younger adult, those are attributes you kind of gravitate toward. As I got older, I started thinking more about it and after working a few years in construction I decided to go for it.”

Wunsch moved on to attend Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC); graduating in 1994 with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and subsequently completed preparatory law enforcement training at MATC.

Shortly following graduation, Wunsch obtained his first law enforcement position as a patrol officer with the Sauk Prarie Police Department, where he worked for the next three years.

“In the spring of 1998, my wife and I were soon to be married and we started discussing options of where we were going to live. She was still back home in Wausau, working at Aspirus Hospital. One day she happened to read about a vacancy with the Merrill Police Department and I applied. The agreement was, if I was hired by Merrill I would move closer to home and if I wasn’t, she would move closer to Sauk Prairie.”

Wunsch was selected to fill the MPD patrol vacancy in the summer of 1998.

Wunsch remained on patrol until 2003 when he applied for and was selected to fill an open investigator position within the department.

“Becoming an investigator was a goal for me from the very beginning,” he adds.

“I didn’t mind patrol, but the investigating aspect always appealed to me; being out there, gathering evidence, talking with people and ultimately closing cases.”

In 2016, Wunsch was promoted to Lieutenant Investigator, upon the retirement of former investigator Mike Hamann.

“I’m looking forward to the next chapter,” Wunsch explains.

“While I’ll no longer be involved in law enforcement, there will be a lot I’ll miss about the job, especially the department. The Merrill Police Department is like a second family. I’m really going to miss that camaraderie we all share, shooting the breeze when we come in on Monday mornings and catching up after the weekend. But I’m also excited about what retirement has to offer.”

While he doesn’t yet have any definite plans for retirement, getting in plenty of fishing time and returning to his building trades roots are a couple of options.

“I thought about becoming a fishing guide. But according to my wife, actually catching fish is a prerequisite for that, I suppose she has a point,” he adds with a grin.

“That won’t stop me from fishing though! I’d also like to get back into doing some work with construction, perhaps remodeling and selling homes.”

In looking back on the hundreds of cases he has investigated spanning nearly two-decades, Wunsch cites a 2016 homicide case involving family members as one of the most challenging.

“Not only was that case a challenge to investigate and work due to the nature of it, but it was literally my first case as Lieutenant Investigator. It was also the very first case for the newly promoted investigator,” he said.

Other cases which stand out for Wunsch are a 2012 reckless homicide case during which two people lost their lives, and a 2005 homicide case involving the death of an 18-month old child.

“I would say that was the most emotionally taxing case I’ve ever investigated. Any crime involving a child is tragic and is never easy to investigate.”

When asked about the aspect of his career he has found the most rewarding, Wunsch quickly cites bringing closure to victims and families and serving alongside other members of the department.

“It’s been a true pleasure and honor to work with such a great group of people and an excellent department,” Wunsch adds.

“Merrill is a great community and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to serve this community for as long as I have. Despite the negative climate recently surrounding this profession, in some areas of the country, I hope others continue to aspire to enter this profession. It’s a career I have thoroughly enjoyed.”

See the full story HERE.