Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 5, 2002

New Chief Carlson plans to be proactive, prepared

By Julie Yurek

New Police Chief Bob Carlson took the helm of the Lester Prairie Police Department Thursday, following the retirement of Fred Blaser.

Carlson, 31, has been with the department since May 2000 and has been a police officer since 1996.

"I really enjoy living and working in Lester Prairie," he said.

"Fred has been preparing me for chief," Carlson said. "He delegated responsibilities to me."

Some of Carlson's accomplishments include applying for and receiving money from the COPS grant program, maintaining paperwork and records for the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) board, conducting background checks on new officers, and taking the lead investigator role in investigations, "which is what the chief usually does," Carlson said.

The COPS grant is a $75,000 grant that goes toward paying for police officers.

"We are a pro-active police department," he said. "We are strongly orientated in community involvement and community policing."

"I don't plan on making any drastic changes to how the department is run because I am very proud of what we have done," Carlson said.

Setting the record straight

Contrary to what was stated in the comment section of the city survey results, the police department does not have eight police officers, Carlson said.

"We have three full-time officers and 10 part-time officers," Carlson said. Besides Carlson, Mark Thiry and Glen Strom are full-time police officers.

There are only usually one or two times a month a part-time officer works, Carlson said. "The rest is taken care of by the full-time officers."

Taxes are only paid on two and a quarter of full-time officers. The rest, three-quarter, is paid for by the COPS grant through the federal government, Carlson said.

Setting his sights on long-term goals

Carlson has several goals he would like to accomplish as chief, he said.

"I want to continue to ensure a positive working relationship with all levels of government and community," he said. He will begin giving a monthly report of police activity at city council meetings, he said.

Carlson also wants to ensure "the community's diverse needs and interests are addressed openly and with dignity," he said.

"I want to establish a policy that will ensure everyone is treated with professionalism, respect, and dignity," he said. "We are very proud of ourselves and have done a good job of being professional."

With a recent police officer incident in a nearby community, Carlson wants the city to be aware that "we are a professional law enforcement agency."

He also wants to ensure high quality of training standards are met, he said.

There are many training mandates that are required by the POST board, he said.

An officer must earn at least 48 credit hours through the three years between license renewals, Carlson said.

There are two classes that must be on an officer's continuing education report in order for his or her license to be renewed ­ emergency vehicle driving and use-of-force.

Because of an increase of accidents related to police pursuits, mostly in the Twin Cities, the POST board requires officers to attend emergency vehicle driving training every three years, Carlson said.

The board also mandates a use-of-force training for officers once a year. In that class, officers practice how to be defensive if a suspect is aggressive towards them, he said.

There has also been more training in security of city services, hazardous materials, and terrorism since Sept. 11, he said.

Another goal of Carlson's is to expand staff reviews.

The reviews will have more "substance" and will be conducted once a year, Carlson said.

As for the DARE program, Blaser will teach it for one more year, Carlson said. After that, he hopes to do it.

Blaser will remain on the list of part-time officers, Carlson said.

Before entering into law enforcement, Carlson worked in radio for seven years. He was a radio news reporter/announcer for WDAY in Fargo, N.D. for four of those seven years. The station is similar to WCCO in the Twin Cities, he said.

He also was a correctional officer and deputy sheriff in Clay County, Moorhead, and an officer in Hawley.

Carlson continues to serve part-time with the McLeod County Sheriff's Department, Deputy U.S. Marshal, and he is a part-time officer in Winsted.

He and his wife, Kristi, live in Lester Prairie. They have a son, Chase, 2, and a daughter, Calli, 8 months. Kristi is a human resources generalist at Landscape Structures in Delano.

Carlson is also a member of the Lester Prairie School Board.

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