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Keith Witt and Wayne Stenehjem

WILL KINCAID/Tribune North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, left, presents former Bismarck Police Chief Keith Witt with the Lone Eagle Award during a ceremony in Bismarck on Wednesday.

BISMARCK, N.D. - Former Bismarck Police Chief Keith Witt told four new officers with his former department that they, like him, chose the right place for a law enforcement career.

Witt came back to his old stomping grounds on Wednesday to accept the North Dakota Peace Officers Association’s Lone Eagle award. He retired in May as police chief after 31 years with the Bismarck Police Department.

During the Wednesday afternoon presentation, Witt told a crowd of area law enforcement officers, Bismarck Police Department staff and others that he felt like he had made his life easier by picking the right things in life, including his wife and the department in which to work.

The North Dakota Peace Officers Association awards two Lone Eagle awards annually: one to an active law enforcement officer and one to a retired officer. The award was the idea of retired FBI agent Herb Eckenroth and honors officers who have “contributed guidance, inspiration and support” during a law enforcement career in North Dakota.

The Lone Eagle award for active officers was given to Ken Owens of the Williston Police Department.

Kelly Leben, NDPOA president and a major in the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department, said the award typically is given at the NDPOA conference, but they were able to arrange for Witt to receive it at the police department this year.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem presented the award to Witt, noting that there were “many” nominations for the former chief. Stenehjem noted that Witt had to deal with two years of flooding during his time as chief and kept the department together upon the July 2011 death of Sgt. Steve Kenner, the first Bismarck police officer killed in the line of duty.

Witt, who is now working with the Garrison Area Improvement Association, credited his colleagues at the police department for the award.

“What I accomplished was working with others and supporting what others did,” he said.

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