MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – This year, Lead Officer Chris Berg is celebrating 15 years serving the Marshfield Police Department. The Marshfield native and MHS alum is no stranger to public service, having served four years in the United States Marine Corps right out of high school followed by six years of active duty in the U.S. Army.
“I knew when I was in the Marines that I wanted to be in law enforcement,” said Berg. “I did security forces and infantry. Toward the end of the my four years, they put me in military police. That reinforced the path I wanted to take.”
After his service, Berg completed the Law Enforcement Academy at Mid-State Technical College. At the time, waiting lists were long and hiring was competitive, so he helped with the family business, Real Pizza, and served the UW Stout Police Department and Wood County Sheriff’s Department reserves to keep busy until joining Marshfield Police Department in 2007 as a patrol officer.
“Everything worked out. Just have to be patient,” he said. “I started as a patrol and took a path where I wanted to stay in patrol.”
He first was involved in the Police Auxiliary as a liaison officer. After that, he served as Field Training Officer, which involves training new officers. He also went to school to become a certified instructor in various disciplines, including Emergency Vehicle Operations, Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Defense & Arrest Tactics, and Vehicle Contacts.
“I enjoy teaching and it keeps me sharp, as well,” he said, adding that his time in the military has also provided valuable life experience that he brings to his each of his law enforcement roles today.
“In the Marines, they break you down and build you back up,” he said. “It provided a lot of life experience. There were trials that I faced in the military that were tough times. If you take that experience and go the right way from that, you learn to deal with people that have problems. I can show more empathy and understanding. I think people appreciate that when you can at least relate to what they are going through.”
For Berg, showing empathy and respect is something he prioritizes as an officer.
“That’s really big for me, showing people respect. Usually you get it back then,” he said. “I try to be a little more patient with people and gather all the info I can before I make a decision, figure out what resources I can offer them to help them through their crisis.”
At a time when law enforcement agencies are often in the national news for negative reasons, Berg encourages people to exercise patience before passing judgement.
“Fortunately in Marshfield, most people are pro-law enforcement,” he said. “As a community, it’s important to be supportive of your law enforcement. It can be stressful and hard career at times and most people don’t see behind-the-scenes the full picture of any given situation. If you see something on the news, just make sure you’re waiting for all the facts to come in before you place judgement and opinion. Simply exercising patience can be really helpful.”
He also encourages young people thinking about a career as a police officer to not let any negative perceptions dissuade them.
“There are so many positive things that should be shared with communities,” he said. “For young people, I encourage them to not let the news deter them from taking a path that really interests them. Serving and helping people – it’s a good feeling at the end of the day. The media can be a big deterrent, but they need to follow their heart. We need good people to be officers, because it would be chaos without law enforcement.”
Berg thanks his family for their support of his career and credits Lt. Dennis Keffer, who retired last year, as a mentor for his career.
“I just appreciate my kids and wife being supportive of me being in this job because it can be tough at times for family time,” he said. “Lt Keffer was a great leader to me, tried to mentor me best he could to move up the ladder. He’s very supportive and great to work with. I miss him.”
Having now served 15 years with Marshfield Police Department, Berg is looking forward to more years of giving back to his hometown with the goal of getting promoted to lieutenant.
“I enjoy everybody that I work with. They are all great officers,” he said. “In this job, the routine isn’t the same every day. Every day is different. Every person you deal with is different. Things don’t get boring. I like that it’s ever-changing. I feel proud to serve my community and give back.”
We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!