Year in review: Sletten retires, Pohlman settles inNo. 8: Two months after he retired from his position as Red Wing Police Chief, Tim Sletten is still adjusting to life outside law enforcement.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Two months after he retired from his position as Red Wing Police Chief, Tim Sletten is still adjusting to life outside law enforcement.
“It doesn’t seem real yet,” he said last week. “It seems like I’m on vacation and I’ll go back to work.”
Sletten’s last day with the police department was Oct. 31. He had been chief since 2003 but had been with the department since 1979. Over the years, Sletten worked in various positions, including patrol officer, school liaison officer, administrative lieutenant and deputy director.
Sletten turned his resignation letter in to the city of Red Wing in May. He became eligible for retirement earlier this year. But Sletten said that wasn’t the only reason he chose to turn in his badge.
“I didn’t leave because I didn’t like what I was doing,” he said. “It was just the right time.”
Sletten said it was a good time for a change for both himself and the department.
“He’s leaving the department in, I feel, very good condition,” Capt. Darold Glander said in October. “He’s done a lot. The department is in good shape.”
“I have no resignations about walking away and seeing what someone else can do,” Sletten added.
When he was chief, Sletten was also involved in a number of community organizations and programs, 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.
Now, Sletten said, he’s not only adjusting to not going to work, but also not being involved in many of those organizations.
“Obviously to go from where you’re juggling, … it’s an adjustment,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean Sletten hasn’t kept busy.
“I’ve been hunting, doing some fishing and getting some things done around the house,” Sletten said. “I’m enjoying it.”
And though he’s not physically in the police department every day anymore, that doesn’t mean he’s no longer involved.
“There’s still a lot of belonging,” Sletten said. “Just because I’m not there, doesn’t mean part of me is not there. It was a very, very good group of people to work with. You don’t walk away from something like that without some strong feelings about what you did.”
The city first posted the police chief position internally before advertising externally at the end of June. The Red Wing City Council officially approved the hiring of Sletten’s successor, Roger Pohlman, at its Sept. 10 meeting.
“This is sort of a bittersweet moment because this process means we’re saying goodbye to Tim,” Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann said at the meeting. “But I’m really excited about introducing you and the community to Roger Pohlman.”
So far, Pohlman said he’s settled in pretty well to his new position.
“I think it’s been a pretty smooth transition,” he said last week. “Chief Sletten had done a lot to prepare here before he left.”
Pohlman is originally from southwestern Minnesota, but had most recently spent 18 years working for the Grand Forks (N.D.) Police Department. Before that, Pohlman spent about a decade in the Air Force, and was stationed in Tuscan, Ariz., Germany, Guam and Turkey.
Now, as police chief, Pohlman said he will draw on his past experiences, especially his time in combat during Operation Desert Storm and his 18-month deployment to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“There’s a lot of things over that experience that shapes you. In Iraq, there’s no rhyme or reason to who was injured and who survived,” Pohlman said. “You really start to realize how precious live is and how so many things are out of your control.”
Pohlman officially began Oct. 15, which allowed him to work with Sletten for two weeks to learn the ropes. Wife Shelley joined him in Red Wing in early November.
“We love our neighborhood and the community,” Pohlman said, adding that both he and his wife are happy to be back to their native Minnesota.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting community residents and committee members and I really appreciate the help that the members of the RWPD have given me,” Pohlman said.