By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, MN Veterans Day is a time for Americans to honor their nation’s veterans for all they have done to protect and serve their country.
Howard Lake Police Chief Dave Thompson is an armed forces veteran who has brought his services to a local level, protecting and serving his new community.
Thompson grew up in Watertown. He attended Watertown Public School through ninth grade, when his family moved and he transferred to Roseville Area High School.
After graduation, Thompson went to the University of Minnesota and enlisted in the National Guard.
Thompson obtained a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the U of M. Then, while working for the military police, he went to night college and received his master’s degree in security management.
Thompson spent five years in the National Guard, and 20 years in the Army. He served six tours of duty. His first tour was Bosnia in 1995-96.
Thompson also completed tours of duty in Panama in 1999; Kuwait in 2001-02; Tikrit, Iraq in 2005-06; Baghdad, Iraq in 2007-08; and Afghanistan in 2012.
Thompson has immersed himself into his community, as expected, according to City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller.
“Thompson jumped in by volunteering at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Schools, attending sporting events, and making a point to introduce himself around town,” Haggenmiller said. “It’s easy to see he has a regard for his family and the community as a whole.”
The city staff and council found his military background impressive, according to Haggenmiller.
“We recognize and appreciate that veterans often possess a unique set of skills and experience that we don’t often find in civilian applicants. Whenever possible, we welcome that new perspective that veterans can offer, especially in a management role,” Mayor Pete Zimmerman said.
Thompson said his decision to apply for the Howard Lake police chief position was based on his readiness to retire from active military duty, and his desire to move back to Minnesota.
“I saw the job posting and I thought, ‘that’s right where I grew up,’” Thompson commented. “There were similar job postings, further from the Cities, but there are so many positive things about Howard Lake.”
City staff and council members are excited to see how Thompson uses his unique career experience to strengthen the Howard Lake Police Department, according to Zimmerman.
“The residents in our community have high expectations in terms of public safety and the service provided by our police department. Thompson’s military experience will aid him in meeting, and most likely exceeding, those expectations,” Zimmerman commented.
Thompson said he is also enthused about working at the Howard Lake police department.
“Officer Szczepanik and Officer Anderson have been outstanding in bringing me on board, and their level of professionalism is great,” Thompson said. “We really have a high quality police department.”
Thompson said being a veteran encourages him to stay involved in his community.
“As a veteran, I try to be a good role model for community members, especially kids. I want to portray a positive image for all veterans,” Thompson said.