April 30, 2007

Top cop

LP’s Carlson named Minnesota American Legion Law Officer of the Year

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson is a small-town cop who has earned a big-time honor as Minnesota American Legion Law Officer of the Year.

Carlson, while happy about the recognition, indicated he does not see this as an individual award.

“I am bringing those two officers with me when I accept the award,” Carlson said, referring to his two full-time officers, Mark Thiry and Brenda Conzet. “This would not be possible without those two people. This is a team effort.”

Carlson also credited his wife, Kristi, as being an important part of his success.

“I am blessed with a wonderful city council, residents, and other officers,” Carlson added.

At first, Carlson was a bit uncomfortable with the award, saying there are other officers who are more deserving.

He mentioned officers across Minnesota who have received the Medal of Valor for their service.

“We need to remember the officers who sacrificed their lives to protect other people,” Carlson commented.

The Legion agreed with Carlson that these officers should be recognized, but told him that the officer of the year award is based on all of his accomplishments and service to the community since becoming Lester Prairie’s police chief in 2002.

Guidelines provided by the American Legion state that the goal of the officer of the year award is to “select a well-rounded law enforcement officer who has exceeded, above and beyond, the duty requirements of his position, and has demonstrated a distinct pattern of community service, coupled with professional achievement.”

Carlson is committed to proactive community policing and crime prevention.

He is a school board member and is involved in many community, law enforcement, and school groups.

“We have tried to establish a rapport with kids so they change their image of police officers. We want them to know that they can trust us and talk to us about anything, and the results have been fantastic.”

Now, when he walks down the hall in school, students greet him with “Hi, Chief Carlson.”

Having the trust of students and other city residents has been very beneficial when the department is investigating crimes, Carlson said.

Carlson’s job can be challenging, but he says he feels fortunate to be doing work that he loves in a community that he loves.

“It has been a great adventure,” Carlson commented.

Carlson was nominated for the award by the Ray Kirkpatrick American Legion Post 463 in Lester Prairie.

He will accept the award for District 3 American Legion Outstanding Law Enforcement officer of the year, which was announced in March, Saturday, May 19 in Chaska.

There are 10 Legion districts in Minnesota, and Carlson was named officer of the year for his region prior to winning the state award.

He will accept the Minnesota American Legion Law Officer of the Year Friday, July 20 in Bloomington.

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