Cumiskey has new career as law enforcement instructor

WORTHINGTON --- For nearly 15 years, Mike Cumiskey was Worthington's public safety director and chief of police. Now, a little more than two years after his retirement, Cumiskey will utilize his 28 years of experience as a law enforcement officer...

Former Worthington Police Chief Mike Cumiskey is shown in this May 2014 photo, shortly after he announced his retirement from the local police force.

WORTHINGTON --- For nearly 15 years, Mike Cumiskey was Worthington’s public safety director and chief of police.

Now, a little more than two years after his retirement, Cumiskey will utilize his 28 years of experience as a law enforcement officer in his new role as a teacher in the law enforcement program at the Worthington campus of Minnesota West Technical and Community College.

Currently, approximately 20 students are registered for the fall term at MW and will begin classes under Cumiskey’s tutelage Aug. 22. Cumiskey officially begins his duties Aug. 15.

“I am looking forward to this opportunity,” said Cumiskey, who will turn 55 in October. “I really like this program, which is near and dear to my heart. It’s been a good course for law enforcement training, locally, dating back to 2001.”

Cumiskey said he and teaching coordinator/instructor Ron Schwint, who teaches the second-year skills component of the course, will host a July 20 open house on the campus beginning at noon.


“We welcome anyone who is interested in becoming involved in law enforcement to come and check us out,” said Cumiskey. “We believe this is a good chance to see what the course is all about.”

Schwint had 27 years of law enforcement experience in South Dakota before beginning his teaching career at West in 2012. He played football for Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., during the 1980s and later worked as an investigative agent for the state prior to serving on the Sioux Falls police force for 21 years.

“The open house is an orientation day for our incoming class,” Schwint said. “We’re also going to be answering questions about the program for other prospective students who may be interested in coming on board.”

Schwint indicated that West’s law enforcement program would be included in the state’s pilot occupational grant project, which will pay student’s tuition for courses involving training in high-demand skilled positions.

“Minnesota West’s law enforcement program contains a set of core courses, which have been designed to be flexible and assist students in preparing for a variety of careers in law enforcement,” a Minnesota West press release reported. “The program being offered at Minnesota West will provide persons in southwest Minnesota an opportunity to complete a quality peace officer training program without having to leave the area.”

Cumiskey served in the                                                                                                                                                   Marines and with the                                                                                                                                                                  Winona police force                                                                                                                                                               

The two-year program offered by Minnesota West is very similar to the one which Cumiskey completed at Alexandria from 1984-1986 after serving a four-year term in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A 1979 graduate of Winona High School (over 500 students), Cumiskey became a Marine six months later, taking 12 weeks of basic training in San Diego.


“I got yelled at some, like everybody else,” he recalled. “But it was a great experience, and we certainly became disciplined. My dad had been a career Marine, so it was something that I wanted to do, too.”

After advancing training at nearby Camp Pendleton, Cumiskey stayed in California for nearly two years --- in the desert --- before overseas stints to Okinawa and Korea, serving as a field wireman with the Air Wing of the Marine Corps.

After receiving his honorable discharge in 1984, he applied for the law enforcement program at Alexandria and was accepted, beginning his long-term successful career as a police officer.

Cumiskey returned to Winona and spent 13 years on the city police department, working as an investigator, shift supervisor and moving up to the rank of sergeant. He was hired by Worthington in August 1999.

In his dual role in Worthington, Cumiskey oversaw the fire department as well as the police force.

“Working with the community and building the departments,” Cumiskey said were positive factors during his time in the leadership position. “Our move out to the Prairie Justice Center has been a good thing, and the whole ‘learning curve’ involved in the process of building the new fire hall was an interesting process.”

The hall, which was completed in October 2012, has served the community well, including being a meeting place for the Federal Emergency Management Agency following the April 2013 ice storm.

“The community of Worthington came together so well after that devastating storm,” recalled Cumiskey. “The public works department, the police, the fire department and just all sorts of local people worked together and got everything cleaned up. Today, it’s hardly noticeable what happened that night.”


Since retiring from his police supervisory duties in May 2014, Cumiskey has done some substitute teaching in the Worthington school system, especially at the Area Learning Center (ALC).

With a bachelor of arts degree from Winona State and a master’s from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, along with his associate of arts from Alexandria, Cumiskey has done some previous teaching at both Winona State and Minnesota West.

“I met with Mike last week and I am excited to be working with him,” Schwint said. “He is real energetic and very professional. The students will benefit from his experience, and his knowledge will allow us to increase the quality of our law enforcement program.”

Cumiskey’s wife, Leigh, is a cake decorator at Hy-Vee. Married since 1984, the couple raised four children --- Jillianna, Ceili, Graeme and Shannon, who all graduated from Worthington High School. Mike and Leigh have been making plans for Jillianna’s upcoming wedding in August, before Cumiskey officially starts his new job at Minnesota West.

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