The spirit of cooperation and recognizing those efforts were alive and well last week in the tiny little Steele County community of Hope.
Amidst a half dozen or so law enforcement officers and bank officials, the star of the show was a shaken bank teller who almost one year ago had a gun shoved in her face demanding her to hand over the cash.
Veteran teller Marie Dobberstein did exactly what she was trained to do. She remained calm and complied with the robber’s demands. “I followed through with what I was trained to do,” she said, pointing out she receives video and classroom training every year. She added that she was definitely prepared when the robber struck.
But she didn’t stop once the suspect fled out the door. She went above and beyond and made several key observations about the suspect’s identity and the vehicle he was fleeing away in that helped authorities with their initial investigation.
Dobberstein’s efforts to catch a violent robbery suspect have earned her a Medal of Commendation through the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association. Last week Sheriff Lon Thiele presented Dobberstein with the honor commending her on her bravery.
Thiele said without Dobberstein’s keen observations, the robbery may not have been solved as quickly as it was, if at all. Less than 24 hours after the robbery, police in Texas had the suspected robber in custody after a wild chase through two states.
Dobberstein’s cooperation is exactly what law enforcement needs from the public at times. They need citizens who are willing to get involved to take a stand against crime. In this particular case, she went the extra mile to get authorities on the right track of nabbing the alleged robber.
This also illustrates how the public and law enforcement can work together in solving crime. Police officers can’t do the work on their own. As is often the case, it takes teamwork between both sides to ensure the public’s safety.
Last week’s ceremony was a bit emotional for Dobberstein, who had to wipe away tears several times. Not only did she help catch the suspected robber, but she also had to deal with her own emotional aftermath.
“It’s traumatic,” Dobberstein said of going through such an experience. “It’s something you will never forget,” she said, adding it’s something no one should ever have to experience.
Luckily, no one was hurt in the ordeal. It had the potential of being a volatile situation at the bank and later that day several states away as authorities chased the suspect.
It wasn’t until later in the day after the robbery took place that reality began to set in for Dobberstein.
“I started thinking about what could have happened,” she said, adding she is thankful everyone came out alive.
Dobberstein took the honor in stride and was quite humble about her involvement. She felt the real stars of the show were the sheriff’s office and FBI. “They need to be commended for the jobs they did,” she said.
Which brings us back to the unique partnership that needs to exist between law enforcement and the public. Without it, crime would run rampant and police would be in hot pursuit of possibly chasing potential leads that may come up empty handed. Fortunately, in the Hope case, that did not happen.