Sletten puts down his badgeRed Wing Police Chief Tim Sletten has worn a badge for nearly two-thirds of his life. Now, after 34 years as a law enforcement officer, Sletten will officially retire Oct. 31.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing Police Chief Tim Sletten has worn a badge for nearly two-thirds of his life. Now, after 34 years as a law enforcement officer, Sletten will officially retire Oct. 31.
“This is a family,” he said of his department. “Be at any job for 33-and-a-half years, work as hard as you do … . It’s going to be a sad moment. I’ll miss it.”
Sletten said he knew early on that he wanted to be a police officer. His father, Bob Sletten, worked for the Northfield Police Department for 25 years.
“I had a lot of respect and admiration for my dad,” Sletten said.
After graduating from Northfield High School and attending Alexandria Technical College for law enforcement in the late 1970s, Sletten worked briefly as a reserve officer for the Northfield Police Department and then as a jailer/dispatcher for Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office.
He joined the Red Wing Police Department as a patrol officer in March 1979. From there, Sletten moved into a school liaison officer position in 1986 and became a lieutenant patrol supervisor in 1986. He also served as an administrative lieutenant and deputy director before being appointed chief in 2003.
“I think there were opportunities that I took advantage of,” he said. “You always strive to move up.”
Ed Krause, who was Red Wing police chief from 1986 to 1997, said he’s “not really surprised” that Sletten was promoted.
“He was serious about his work. He was good with detail. A good project guy,” Krause said. “During the time I was there and Tim worked for me, I was always very happy with the way he carried himself and did his work.”
Looking back on his three decades as a police officer, Sletten said his favorite part about the job is helping people. It’s something he said is an essential quality that every officer needs.
“A cop has to be very well-rounded,” Sletten said. “You have to have a feeling of honestly caring about people.”
That, colleagues and friends say, is certainly something that Sletten does.
“He is a very caring individual and he has a big heart and that is evident with working closely with him,” Capt. Darold Glander said.
Glander joined the Red Wing Police Department just two years after Sletten did.
“I’ve come to know him extremely well,” Glander said. “There’s a lot of mixed emotions.”
Red Wing resident Jo Seton met Sletten just after she moved here seven years ago. In that time, Seton said he’s become a close friend.
“It’s the kind of job that you could be really distant, but he’s engaged himself with the community,” Seton said. “He turns up everywhere. He’s involved in everything.”
Over the years, Sletten has worked with numerous community service groups, including Kiwanis, Goodhue County Homeless Response Team, the Elder Justice Network, the Human Rights Commission, the Hiawatha Valley Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee and Chemical Health Initiative.
“I've never met a harder-working man,” Seton said. “He’s utterly and passionately committed to doing the best possible job he can.”
Now, Sletten said after nine years as chief, this is an opportunity for change — for both him and the department.
“He’s leaving the department in I feel very good condition,” Glander said. “He’s done a lot. The department is in good shape.”
“It’s a good time for change in the department,” Sletten echoed. “I have no resignations about walking away and seeing what someone else can do.”
Roger Pohlman will take over as chief Nov. 1.
Sletten credits his wife, Becky, and now-adult children, Sean and Kelsey, for their patience over the years.
“I’ve spent a lot of time at this job,” Sletten said. “Without my wife accepting it, I wouldn’t have been as effective as a chief. My family has been a huge support. We made it work.”
Looking forward, Sletten said he’s not sure what he’ll do next. Though he said he’ll have more time for his hobbies — which include hunting and fishing — Sletten added that he also wants to continue working.
“I want to look at it as another chapter in my life,” he said. “I still want to be in a position to help people. I just don’t know what that is.”
“Tim’s been a phenomenal guy to work for. He certainly is going to be sorely missed,” Glander said. “His imprint will be here for years to come.”