When Brent Zuhlsdorf was still in elementary school he told his parents he wanted to be a police officer....
Brent Zuhlsdorf has known since he was pretty young what he wanted to do with his life. When he was still in elementary school he told his parents he wanted to be a police officer.
“At first they just thought it was a phase,” said Zuhlsdorf, adding as time went on and his position did not change they started to take his thoughts more seriously. “When I was older some of my buddies were working as deputies, and I went on ride-alongs with them. After my first ride-along I was hooked. As a kid whenever I saw the lights and heard the sirens I knew one day I wanted to be that person who was there to help.”
Today Zuhlsdorf is an officer with the Redwood Falls Police Department and has been on the job since Feb. 28.
A 2008 graduate of BOLD High School, Zuhlsdorf earned his degree in law enforcement from Alexandria Technical College. He then got his first job.
He started working for departments in Renville County, including serving as the police chief in Sacred Heart, and he currently also works part-time for the Olivia and Hector departments.
Even with three years of experience coming into his role with the Redwood Falls department, including knowledge as an officer and an administrator, Zuhlsdorf said he recognizes there is still a lot left to learn. He has appreciated the opportunity to do some training with other officers in the local department.
For Zuhlsdorf, the role of an officer is to respond to a situation with the intent of being there to serve others. No matter the situation or the person, he is there to do the job and to help.
“Every call is a new call and every person has a new slate no matter what they may have done in the past,” he said. “People deserve to be treated with respect in all situations.”
Zuhlsdorf said he is a big traffic guy, and his past reflects that.
In fact, he was recognized recently as a DWI All-Star based on the number of arrests he made. The recognition, explained Zuhlsdorf, is based on the population of the jurisdiction where an officer is serving and the number of arrests based on that population.
Zuhlsdorf said he fully intends to be recognized with that award again, not necessarily for the pat on the back but to know that he is helping protect others every time he gets another drunk driver off of the road.
Zuhlsdorf said his role in Sacred Heart was a good experience, as he was able to get his feet wet in a number of areas of his job. Now, however, he is in a larger community, which means more calls and more work.
“I like to be busy,” said Zuhlsdorf.
Currently, Zuhlsdorf is working nights, and he said that is his preference. After all, he added, more seems to happen at night.
“There are times at night when you go from one call to the next,” he said, adding he prefers to be on the job when things are happening.
While Zuhlsdorf is from the area, he said he is not familiar with too many people, although, he added, there have been times in his career that he has had to arrest someone he knew.
“That’s all part of the job,” he said.
Looking back, Zuhls-dorf said he believes his plan was always to come back to the area to work, because he is familiar with the area and it means being close to family. For him that is important.
As far as he knows, Zuhlsdorf is the only one in his family who has been in law enforcement.
Being an officer means more than just riding around in a vehicle, said Zuhlsdorf.
It also means finding a way to become a bigger part of the community.
“When I started in Sacred Heart I knew how important it was that people knew me and I knew them on a first-name basis,” said Zuhlsdorf, adding he knows in a town with a population of 5,000 that might not be possible, but he will be in the community getting to know as many people as he can.
He also plans to get involved in other ways, such as helping with the Special Olympics.
When he is not on the job, Zuhlsdorf enjoys being in the outdoors doing everything from ice fishing to playing golf. He also enjoys taking rides on his motorcycle and doing what he can to stay in shape. After all, he said the local Special Olym-pics 5K is coming up, and he intends to compete.
Things have been going well for Zuhlsdorf in his new role with the Red-wood Falls Police Department, and he is looking forward to getting out, meeting more people and letting them see he is here to help.