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Grand Forks County corporal named to international 40 Under 40 list

Shane Rothenberger, with the sheriff's office only six years, is the third law enforcement officer in North Dakota to be granted this award.

Two uniformed men standing in front of Grand Forks County Sheriff sign, behind podium
Cpl. Shane Rothenberger, awardee of the IACP 40 Under 40 Award (left) and Sgt. Aaron Davidson (right) stand during a press conference on Monday, Sept. 19.
Sav Kelly
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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Rothenberger is the third officer in the state to receive the award. The Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office sent an updated press release on Tuesday morning, noting the change.

GRAND FORKS – A Grand Forks County corporal has been named to an international 40 Under 40 list.

The award, given out by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, acknowledges rising leaders from around the world who exemplify leadership, dedication, and service to their communities as well as the law enforcement profession. To recognize Cpl. Shane Rothenberger's accomplishments, the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference Monday evening, Sept. 19, with his family in attendance.

Since joining the GFCSO in 2016, Rothenberger has made strides. He was named Deputy of the Year in 2021; he’s the only drug recognition expert in the agency, the first cultural liaison officer for the GFCSO, and a drone pilot for the Northeast Region UAS team.

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Rothenberger regularly works the night shift, but he is also on call to assist area law enforcement with tasks including but not limited to: suspect apprehension; search for missing persons; crime scene or crash reconstruction; and U.S. Border Protection.

Chief Deputy Dave Stromberg began the conference by introducing Sgt. Aaron Davidson. Davidson, who nominated Rothenberger, read the nomination letter aloud to those in attendance of the conference.

“He is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and attends numerous community events to bridge the gap between Native American communities and law enforcement,” Davidson said.

As a cultural liaison, Rothenberger has developed Native American cultural training, which he teaches to area law enforcement agencies and training academies. Davidson listed these accomplishments and more in the nomination letter.

“Cpl. Rothenberger will no doubt climb the ranks in our agency, but in his six years with the sheriff’s office he has accomplished so much,” Davidson said.

Davidson concluded his speech by recalling an example of Rothenberger counseling a woman he arrested. She was arrested for possession of drugs and had been in regular contact with the GFCSO.

“She was at a bad place in her life, and Cpl. Rothenberger could see that,” said Davidson.

Since Rothenberger’s conversation with the woman three years ago, she has not been arrested or had any negative contact with the agency.

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“Cpl. Rothenberger came across her one day and she expressed her gratitude to him and explained how much it meant to her that he had this conversation with her,” Davidson said.

Rothenberger spoke briefly about how he has been impacted by the IACP 40 Under 40 Award.

“Getting this award means a lot to me because it just shows that hard work pays off and you can overcome adversity and stereotypes,” Rothenberger said.

He expressed pride and hope that others will be inspired to push back against stereotypes as he has.

Stromberg spoke again to close the conference. He said this year there were awardees from seven countries and thanked Rothenberger for his work.

In attendance of the conference were numerous members of Rothenberger’s family including his uncles, aunts, and grandmother.

As a recipient of this award, Rothenberger will attend the annual IACP conference in Dallas, Texas in October and be recognized in front of more than 16,000 public safety professionals.

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Rothenberger is the third law enforcement officer in North Dakota to receive the accolade. Officers from Watford City Police Department and the Fargo Police Department have also received the award. The sheriff's office had previously believed Rothenberger was the first officer in the state to be named to the list, but in an updated release sent on Tuesday morning noted he is the third in the state.

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