Investigator Todd Frank named American Legion Post 85 officer of the year
When North Branch Police Department Investigator Todd Frank thinks about what drove him to become a police officer, his memories drift back to growing up in Willmar, Minn.
“I used to see the local police drive through downtown, and they always caught my eye,” he said. “They were very approachable in the community I lived in, and that sat every well with me. Pretty much as far back as I can remember, I thought, ‘I want to go into law enforcement.’”
It was a good career choice for Frank. His career has spanned 25 years and three agencies: the Cambridge Police Department, the Metro Transit Police Department and his current post, a job from which he hopes to retire someday. He’s been with North Branch for 16 years, 15 of those as an investigator.
Recently, North Branch American Legion Post 85 named Frank the town’s officer of the year for his dedication to the community.
He humbly accepted the accolade, noting he’s a “private guy” who doesn’t do police work for recognition or awards.
“I’m a pretty simple guy,” he said. “I just happen to work in a public profession.”
In a memo to Post 85, North Branch Chief of Police Dan Meyer described Frank as “an exceptional and dedicated officer.”
“His tenacity and thoroughness has directly led to the arrest and conviction of many criminals, including several child predators, and he is commended for helping to create a safer community,” Meyer wrote.
An investigative knack
Frank said he didn’t go into police work specifically seeking the investigative facet of it; it was something that “just happened by default.”
“I think it was just more of a thing that developed within my career,” he said. “(Investigative work) is very fascinating to me; I look at it as a challenge.”
Frank has solved more cases than he can remember, but he said he always takes the same approach when working on a case: He addresses it with sensitivity.
“It’s really rewarding to be entrusted with the task of working with people and helping them problem solve some of the most complex and sensitive issues that they might ever be faced with in their lives,” he said.
He added investigative police work is a career that’s easy to “think about all the time,” but he’s got a good support mechanism of family and friends who help take his mind off the job when he needs it.
Remembering a fallen friend
Frank said he’s worked on numerous high-profile cases throughout this career, and he didn’t want to divulge information about them in respect to the victims, but he did recount a friendship that forever changed how he goes about his job.
Frank and now-deceased Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Tim Bowe became good friends while Frank was at the Cambridge Police Department and Bowe covered Isanti County as part of his patrol beat.
The two also both worked for the Metro Transit Police Department.
“I probably had more meals with Tim than I did with my brother,” Frank recalled.
When Bowe was shot and killed responding to a call in Fish Lake Township June 7, 1997, it came as a shock to the law enforcement community in the area.
“Tim was just an all-around great guy,” Frank said.
Frank admitted that after his friend’s death, he thought of leaving law enforcement, but deep down he knew that’s not what Bowe would have wanted him to do.
“The way Tim was is what inspired me to keep going,” he said.
A chance at state accolades
Frank and North Branch Fire Department Firefighter Mitch Holmes — who will be profiled in an upcoming issue of the Post Review — will be considered at the regional level for American Legion police officer and firefighter of the year in June, and if they pass that round they’ll be considered at the state level at the end of July.
“We want to honor these people and show the community we have a lot of staff dedicated to their protection,” said Ron Rollins, a member of North Branch American Legion Post 85 and K-9 officer with the North Branch Police Department.
Frank said he hasn’t thought about being recognized at the state level and stressed that any officer who serves the North Branch Police Department is worthy of the accolade bestowed upon him by Post 85.
“We’re really lucky here,” he said. “We don’t have anybody who is in the business for the wrong reasons.”