Tim Olson to receive Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau Award
When North Branch Police Officer Tim Olson is out the in the community, even when he’s not in uniform, people take the time to say hello and engage him in conversation.
“We’ll go to the grocery store, and my kids will be like, ‘Dad, do you know everybody?’”
Olson might not know every person in town, but he likely knows a good percentage of them because of his involvement with the community and its youth.
Due to his contributions to the North Branch community, the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau recently named Olson as the recipient of the James Trudeau Award, which “recognizes law enforcement officials who go above and beyond department objectives in their commitment to local youth.”
North Branch Police Chief Dan Meyer nominated Olson for the award.
“Officer Tim Olson has been with the North Branch Police Department since 2002 and has worked as a school resource officer since 2003,” Meyer wrote. “Due to budgetary constraints in recent years, two full-time SRO positions were reduced to one part-time position, and Officer Olson has done an excellent job in that challenging, demanding role. Officer Olson has worked hard building relationships with youth and has been involved with many educational programs within the schools such as bike safety, personal safety, drug awareness, etc. Officer Olson was recently nominated to serve on the board of directors for the Minnesota Juvenile Officers’ Association.”
North Branch Area Public Schools Superintendent Deb Henton also recommended Olson for the award.
“Tim is the district’s school liaison officer, and it’s hard to imagine a better fit,” Henton wrote in part of her recommendation. “He is considered much more than an officer to the students of North Branch Area Public Schools; he is a mentor, a confidant and a friend to all students.”
Olson will accept his award at the June 9 North Branch City Council meeting.
From teaching to law enforcement
After graduating from Aurora-Hoyt Lakes High School, near the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, in 1988, Olson decided to go to school for education. But it wasn’t long before his interest turned to law enforcement, and by 1993 he had his first police job as a part-time officer in his hometown of Hoyt Lakes.
From there, he became a prison guard at the Stillwater Prison, and he also served as a State Fair police officer during that time.
In 1999, he took a job with the Chisago Lakes Police Department, and then transitioned to the North Branch Police Department three years later.
He said he enjoys his role on the NBPD and working with youth at the schools.
“It’s not all about writing tickets and busting kids when you’re at the schools,” he said. “A lot of the time you’re teaching them.”
He added, “Kids will come and ask me questions about just about anything law enforcement related, especially when they’re doing projects for school.”
Olson added he does some teaching at the middle school.
“I get into all the sixth-grade health classes throughout the year,” he said. “I talk to them about drugs and alcohol, tobacco — stuff like that. I talk to them about making good choices and if they make a bad choice what the consequences might be.”
Olson said one of his favorite parts of being an officer in North Branch is the ability to interact with people through community engagement activities.
As an example, he said about 10 years ago, he started a “Pedal with the Police” program where he and other officers took local youth out for a bike ride along the Sunrise Prairie Trail and had a grill-out and prizes for them.
He recalled, with a laugh, that toward the end of the event that first year — which started at the trailhead — the sky got really dark, and the weather turned rather quickly.
“The tent ended up blowing away,” he said, “and we had bikes to give away to these kids.”
So they moved the rest of the event to the North Branch Fire Hall, and that’s where it’s been ever since. Now it’s called “Day With Public Safety.”
Olson said he’s humbled by the award, and he thanked Meyer for his nomination and Henton for the kind letter of recommendation.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “I’ve known a lot of the past winners.
“A lot of good officers have gotten that award. It’s nice to be part of that group.”