“Growing up in the city of Belle Plaine, my dream was always to be the police chief,” said Stier. As a child, he frequently visited the fire station where his father was the fire chief. Those visits introduced him to the idea of serving as a public official, and he was drawn to the police officers who came to assist the firefighters and who were more than willing to encourage a young boy’s goals.
When Stier was old enough, he began accompanying the police on ride-alongs and was accepted for an internship with the City of Belle Plaine. In 2002, the Jordan, Belle Plaine and Montgomery police departments all hired him to work part-time for their cities. Stier was eventually selected to work full-time for the New Prague Police Dept. where he stayed for six months until another full-time position opened on the Belle Plaine force. He applied and was accepted in 2004.
Throughout his career in Belle Plaine, Stier became used to wearing many different hats. While serving on the Belle Plaine police force, he also worked part-time with the Scott County Sheriff’s Dept. in the recreational safety division from May of 2005 through February of 2017, assisting with boat and snowmobile patrol on his days off. At the Belle Plaine PD, he primarily served as an investigator.
“I was very interested in investigation and at that time it was not so much done with technology,” Stier said. “This was back when you would write a search warrant, see the judge, have it signed, and then go into homes searching for drugs and illegal contraband.”
Nowadays, Stier said, investigation focuses heavily on cell phone records and warrants to search internet and app history.
“It’s very helpful to have that information,” said Stier, who is nationally certified for cell phone forensics. During investigations, if the police can get a warrant for a suspect’s phone, they can frequently sift through its contents to look for GPS locations for specific dates and times. “Back in the day, you had to go by hearsay, witness accounts and surveillance, if there was any.”
Stier worked in investigations from 2010 to 2015, when he was promoted to detective sergeant. In June of 2020, he served first as acting chief while Chief Tom Stolee was out, and then as interim chief while Stolee was separating from the Belle Plaine department. When the position opened for applicants, Stier interviewed and was accepted as police chief.
“I’ve accomplished that goal, and now I need to serve the community,” Stier said regarding his new position. His priority is to rebuild local law enforcement’s partnership with the public at large, particularly due to recent events.
“It’s very interesting when you go to Minneapolis and you can sense that people dislike you just because you wear a badge,” Stier said. “Then you come back to Belle Plaine and go to Kwik Trip and you have three or four people who want to buy you a coffee or thank you for your service.”
Stier is grateful for local support and hopes to conduct meetings with community leaders to learn what it is that they dislike about law enforcement and seize the opportunity to demonstrate how the police serve their various districts.
“Most people don’t see the good that we do, the officers that are meeting with families after a domestic to make sure that they’re ok, or meeting with a family after a child abuse case to ensure that the child is safe,” Stier said. “We do a lot more than what hits the news, and what I want to get out there is that we’re here to serve and protect.”
To fulfil this goal and gain the wider community’s trust, Stier plans to increase training for his officers regarding implicit bias, de-escalation and other timely topics.
“My vision is to get the officers trained to a point where they can go into a situation without implicit bias,” said Stier. “I believe that we’ve always been there; I just need to fine-tune it to how today’s society needs us to respond. I need to put the best-trained officers I can out on the streets so that people feel comfortable and they trust the officers when they come to their house.”