Cambridge Police Chief Pajnic retires after 30 years in law enforcement

Like most students, Dave Pajnic was curious about several different careers but he always ending up coming back to one particular field—law enforcement.

Pajnic was hired by the Cambridge Police Department as a detective in July 2001 and has been chief of police since 2006. His last day in the office will be Thursday, Jan. 24, with his official retirement date being Friday, Feb. 8.

Cambridge Police Chief Dave Pajnic
Cambridge Police Chief Dave Pajnic

Sgts. Todd Schuster and Shawn Machin with the Cambridge Police Department will handle the duties of the police chief in the interim while the city begins its search for a new chief.

Pajnic started his law enforcement career with the South Charleston Police Department in Ohio in 1983 and served until 1986. From 1987 until 2000, he served with the Port St. Lucie Police Department in Florida in a variety of positions. After serving in Florida, he began with the Cambridge Police Department.

Pajnic has enjoyed his time in Cambridge.

“I moved our family from Florida to Minnesota because of all the positive family opportunities in Minnesota, and I’ve absolutely loved the Cambridge community,” Pajnic said. “I’ve worked with a great police department from all the officers to all the other personnel in the police department. I’ve also enjoyed working with all the other different agencies in Isanti County from the sheriff’s department, fire departments, probation, county attorney’s office, hospitals, first responders, and everyone else involved in law enforcement. Everyone in Isanti County supports one another and we’ve all made it work with our limited resources.”

City staff feel Pajnic has done an outstanding job as police chief.

“We have been blessed to have Dave [Pajnic] as our chief of police,” said City Administrator Lynda Woulfe. “He leaves the city of Cambridge with an exceptional police department that was built under his guidance and dedication from our patrol officers. We will miss his professionalism and wish him the very best in his retirement.”

Pajnic said it wasn’t an easy decision to retire, but a decision that’s coming at the right time.

“It’s with mixed feelings that I announced my retirement,” Pajnic said. “It’s hard to let go of something you’ve done for the past 30 years, but I’m glad I’m leaving at a time that I still have a passion for it. I’ll miss the relationships and all the different departments I’ve worked with over the years.”

Pajnic said one achievement he’s particularly proud of is decreasing the crime rate.

“Over the course of the last four to five years, due to the hard work of everyone in the police department, we’ve been able to bring the crime rate down 37 percent,” Pajnic said. “We also saw a 50 percent decrease in business burglaries, residential burglaries and other burglaries. I think as a department we’ve done fairly well with reducing the overall crime rate.”

Another achievement for Pajnic is the formation of the business check program where the police department does regular routine checks on businesses.

“We really focused on a pro-active community policing,” Pajnic explained. “We had a very aggressive business check program where we would do routine checks on businesses. By taking a more pro-active stance on community policing, we were really able to bring the crime rate down.”

Pajnic said he enjoyed participating and patrolling community events such as National Night Out and Cambridge Customer Appreciation.

“I’m proud of those events, and the job the officers always do policing those events,” Pajnic said.

Pajnic always separated his work life from his home life.

“You’ve got to make that separation between your work life and home life—work is work and home is home,” Pajnic said. “You can’t let the two paths start crossing each other. When you go home at night, you have to focus on spending time with your family.”

Pajnic feels the department has done a nice job handling the changes of the Cambridge community, which currently has a population of approximately 8,000. The police department has 14 sworn officers, two office personnel and 10 to 12 members on the police reserves.

Pajnic feels he always did his job to the best of his ability.

“I always strived to do the right thing,” Pajnic said. “I always tried to do the right thing for all those involved in the situation, for the community and department.”

Pajnic said it has been an honor serving as police chief for the city of Cambridge.

“I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten from the city, city hall, the community and other law enforcement agencies over the years,” Pajnic said. “I feel blessed to have been able to do the things I’ve done the past 30 years. I have been able to live the law enforcement dream and I feel truly blessed. This has been a great community, and we really do have a great police department in the city of Cambridge.”