This post is part of our ongoing, #WhyIWearTheBadge Wednesday blog series.
When I was 16 years old and most of my peers were wondering what to take next semester, where they’d go to college, or what they wanted to “be,” I already knew I’d someday be wearing a badge. That was the year I went for a ride-along with a local suburban police officer and realized that he was more than an enforcer and a protector. He was helping people. His presence and influence in that town, and with one family on that day, made a difference I could identify. I wanted that in my career. I wear this badge because it allows me to help people.
Shortly thereafter, I met a Minnesota State Trooper, and I knew which badge I wanted to wear. I joined the State Patrol Explorer Program and never looked back, because all I could see were opportunities. There were so many, and they were all attractive. I stayed active with the State Patrol as much as possible through college, learning about the organization and the work they do. I also met several troopers who influenced my understanding and my choices. I specialized in crash reconstruction, experiencing some of my proudest moments when my work helped crash victims achieve justice — through a conviction, in many cases. In other cases, we were able to provide answers about how and why their loved one had died. I wear this badge because integrity and compassion are important parts of my job.
In every MSP position along my way to this badge, I’ve been surrounded by positive mentors — people who love what they’re doing; people motivated by the mission of the State Patrol. These folks aren’t just going to work. They’re acting on a personal need. They believe in what they do every day, and that’s contagious. They “bleed maroon,” working for an organization they’re proud of and doing work they know is making a difference.
I hit every rank on my way up, learned everything I could from the people who’d been there before — and now, as Chief, part of my job is to cultivate passion for this work throughout the organization. I work to prevent negativity and minimize stoicism by paying attention to individuals, to their mental, physical and tactical wellness and by putting energy into making the culture positive. Respect, integrity, courage, honor, excellence, and a strong belief that friendship and laughter make the workplace work — these are the things we promote at MSP. It’s incredibly satisfying to encourage new talent and watch people grow to love their jobs. I wear this badge because I belong here.
The signature look of a State Trooper is the hat. It symbolizes professionalism, command presence, and embodies respect. As it turns out, the hat is part of the image, and the image is part of the pride. I wear that hat — and this badge — because it’s an honor to be allowed to wear them. It’s an honor to work with people who treat others fairly and professionally. Most importantly, it’s an honor to serve the people of Minnesota from behind this badge.