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Asleson retires from Minnesota State Patrol

September 30, 2012
Fritz Busch , The Journal

The Saturday night before his retirement after 38 years of law enforcement experience this month, Asleson and retired State Patrolman Kevin Guggisberg of New Ulm worked an impaired driving operation in MInneapolis.

Between the two of them, they have 73 years of law enforcement experience, but neither of them ever saw anything like their final ride together as patrolmen.

Asleson, recalled the event: "At about 9:30 p.m., they received a dispatch call based on a citizen report of a weaving driver on I-94 northbound of the Lowry Tunnel in North Minneapolis.

Article Photos

Minnesota State Patrol Major Mike Asleson recently retired after 38 years in law enforcement.

"We got into position as the vehicle approached our location at I-94 and Broadway. A citizen report stated the driver was passed out behind the wheel and a right-front passenger was trying to steer.

"We got behind the vehicle. Efforts to stop it with lights, siren and vocal commands were unsuccessful. We pulled next to the driver's side of the van and noticed a female passenger was passed out. Her head was hanging out the window, hair blowing in the wind. Repeated requests to the passenger to turn off the vehicle or put it in neutral were ineffective.

"A second squad car arrived in our procession. We were preparing to force the vehicle off the road when it began to slow, and then stop. Kevin took control of the passenger and I approached the driver. I began to wonder if she was dead as I could get no response from her. Ultimately, she woke and displayed severe signs of impairment, the result of .18 alcohol concentration and finishing a bottle of Percoct.

"It was a sad situation. The driver and passenger were homeless. The driver had just given her infant up for adoption and was clearly grieving her life.

"That was the last of several bookings at the Hennepin County Jail. When I retrieved my firearm from the weapons locker to return to my squad, I admit I was a bit misty eyed that this was the end of a job I am going to miss."

A member of the New Ulm High School (NUHS) Class of 1976, Asleson has fond memories of New Ulm for a number of reasons.

Working as a part-time, civilian dispatcher for the New Ulm Police Department (NUPD) at age 16, Asleson decided to make law enforcement a career.

"I will always be indebted for that wonderful and truly unique opportunity when NUPD Chief Rich Gulden and Specialist Warren Bloomquist took an incredible chance and hired a pimple-faced, punk kid," Asleson said.

He worked for the NUPD for two years and nine months before being hired by the Minnesota State Patrol. Asleson said the NUPD was ahead of its time.

"The NUPD practiced and modeled community policing long before someone put a label on it," Asleson said. "They also practiced 'mentorship' before it became in vogue or warranted an official title or assignment...I'd put the NUPD up against any agency in terms of honorable service."

Besides Gulden and Bloomquist, Asleson served with Sergeants Hoyer, Schapekahm, Zins and Raabe; Corporals Burdorf, Wiesner, Dunn and D. Gulden; and officers Daugherty, Sandmann, Traurig, Nalipinski, Stolt, Weinkauf, Pearce and Zeidler.

"It was really an incredible bunch," Asleson said. "As is often the case, few citizens of New Ulm knew how truly well protected and served they were. Every single one of them treated me well...I think of them often."

Hired by the State Patrol before a license or college degree were required, Asleson attended Mankato State University for a year before he became a patrolman, which opened the door for lots of formal education.

It began with 16 weeks "intensive" training at rookie school.

"Although it was difficult and stressful, I look back at it fondly, like a soldier looking back on book camp," Asleson added.

After that, Asleson and more than 200 other troopers were sent to west central Minnesota for several months to deal with power line protests.

"Seeing 200 squad cars deploy from a single parking lot was quite a sight for a new agency member," he recalled.

Asleson worked in the state's busiest station - Minneapolis - from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. for several years.

"It was perfect for a young patrolman who liked to be busy," he added. "Overnight crashes often involved impaired drivers. I saw lots of carnage. Investigating those crashes was uniquely rewarding. The action was non-stop arrests, pursuits, and unique behavior law enforcement witnesses on late-night shifts."

Asleson became a Crash Reconstruction Specialist in 1984 where he said he enjoyed the investigation process, answering why, how and what it questions.

"I enjoyed every assignment I received and had tears when I left each of them," he added. "Highlights were 10 weeks at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. at the School of Police Staff & Command; and 11 weeks with students of 18 countries at the FBI National Academy.

Asleson moved his family three times after taking State Patrol promotions - from New Ulm to Detroit Lakes, Mankato, and the Twin Cities.

Although there is lots of new technology, since he began his career, Asleson said law enforcement is still done much as it was 35 years ago - one stop at a time, one call at a time, one citizen interaction at a time.

Some other things have changed over time, according to Asleson.

"When I started, an officer's sworn testimony in court was accepted as strong and credible," he said. "Now, audio and video recordings are increasingly necessary to corroborate what an officer has testified to."

Other modern technology like video cameras, GPS, automatic vehicle locating, Tasers, computer-aided dispatching, mobile data computers in squad cars have enhanced law officer efficiency and safety, according to Asleson.

"I remember when troopers were missing. We'd determine their last location and draw a one-hour radius from it. Officers would drive highways (in the radius) in search of the trooper," Asleson said.

He said Minnesota is fortunate to have well-trained and honest law enforcement.

"I hope that those that take the torch from people like me remember that the public trust is valuable and fragile," Asleson said. "I learned how its important to treat everyone with dignity and respect."



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