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Officer remembered

2014 photo of Jay Nelson as Lake Park police chief in 2014. Forum News Service

A retired Lake Park, Minn., police chief killed earlier this month while hunting gained some of his early experience in law enforcement in Jamestown.

Jay Clayton Nelson, 53, was shot and killed on Nov. 10 on the White Earth Reservation in Becker County.

Morris Silas Dodd Jr., Ogema, Minn., has been arrested in the incident and is charged with second-degree manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Dodd is being held in the Becker County Jail in Detroit Lakes.

Nelson had one career ambition even early in his life, according to his uncle, Dwaine Heinrich mayor of Jamestown. Nelson lived in Jamestown with Heinrich for part of the summer after he graduated from high school before beginning his law enforcement training.

"One thing he always wanted to do was be a cop," Heinrich said. "He worked part time here and there and then went to work for the Jamestown Police Department and the (Stutsman County) Sheriff's Department."

This was in the late 1980s. Nelson returned to Minnesota to continue his law enforcement career in 1992, Heinrich said.

Heinrich said two of Nelson's mentors while he worked in Jamestown were the late Jack Miller at the sheriff's office and Leonard Palmer at the Jamestown Police Department. Palmer, who has since retired from the Police Department, said he commanded Nelson.

"He was a great man and great friend," Palmer said. "You couldn't find a better guy. The way we lost him is pathetic."

Palmer spoke highly of Nelson as a law enforcement officer.

"He was always in there covering the bases," he said. "If I'd have had 10 like him we'd have been in high heaven."

Dave Orr, Stutsman County sheriff when Nelson served in that department, also had praise for him. Nelson worked as a jailor and dispatcher for the sheriff's department back in the days before the construction of the Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center.

"Nice guy with a good family," Orr said. "Steady and reliable officer."

People in Jamestown who knew him, remember Nelson more as a friend than a law enforcement officer.

"He was well respected," Heinrich said. "Married for many years, two boys who grew up to be very successful."

For Palmer, it was more personal.

"He worked well with me and well with the guys," Palmer said, referring to the other officers on the shift. "I can't say enough for him. I'll miss him as a friend."