- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

SARTELL, Minn. (AP) - A police officer who served several central Minnesota communities over the years has died at age 44 of complications from surgery.

Most recently, Joe Schmitz worked for the Sartell Police Department. Chief Jim Hughes describes Schmitz as “tall in stature with a big heart and a smile just as big.”

The family’s CaringBridge website says Schmitz died Thursday from complications of surgery a week before to repair a bulging disc in his neck.

Sartell police say Schmitz also served 19 years with the Paynesville Police Department and had worked for the Cold Spring-Richmond Police Department.

He is survived by his wife and 4-year-old son.

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