Larry Haug, a sergeant, has been with the Minot Police Department for 25 years as of this Thursday. In his quarter century with the department he has seen Minot change in many ways, though for the most part those changes have really only come recently.
"If you want to talk change I think you almost have to go by the last handful or several years. I think that's when it really started changing. You know, when the oil activity really started up," Haug said.
Those changes, he said, have been both good and bad. With his perspective as a seasoned police officer he knows what to look for.
Sgt. Larry Haug has seen quite a bit of change in his 25 years with the Minot Police Department. “If you want to talk change I think you almost have to go by the last handful or several years. I think that’s when it really started changing. You know, when the oil activity really started up,” Haug said.
The biggest change is the influx of people, which has left city infrastructure and employees scrambling to keep up with heightened demand from them and managing traffic and other stressors in the best way they can.
In all those years, though, he hasn't really changed. One co-worker of his described him as "the glue that keeps this place together" and later spoke of Haug's professionalism and thoroughness. But with that professionalism may come a bit of shyness as it was hard to get him to really open up and let his story come out. And it's a great story.
Haug is a native of Moorhead, Minn., where he got a degree in sales and marketing at Moorhead Area Vocational Technical Institute and put that degree to work immediately in sales positions in the area. He worked as a paint salesman with Sherwin-Williams and then at an RV company and then at a truck equipment company in their parts and service department. The problem, though, is he was somewhat dissatisfied with these jobs. He was stuck in an office and he wanted more.
That all changed when his wife's sister married a deputy with the Cass County Sheriff's Department in North Dakota.
"I saw how much he liked his job and thought it looked pretty interesting and I pursued the same thing," Haug said.
He didn't want to be a sheriff's deputy, though. "I thought the municipal police department would give a good mixture of the types of calls law enforcement responds to," he said. "The longer I got to know my brother-in-law, the more motivated I became to try to get into law enforcement."
"You meet a lot of interesting people. You respond to a lot of interesting incidents," he said of the job, also saying that he doesn't think he could maintain a regular desk job again. As a shift commander with the department, though, he does sit behind a desk about half of the time he works. The other half is spent on patrol, the part of the job he loves most.
"Being out in the patrol car and responding to interesting situations ... You never know from one minute to the next what you're going to be doing. Your whole day can change with a phone call or a radio transmission."
For one year, in 2001, Haug worked in the crime prevention department under then-Sgt. Jason Olson who is now chief of police. He was promoted out of crime prevention to patrol sergeant on Dec. 30, 2001.
It was soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks rocked the nation and just before Minot was rocked itself.
"It was two weeks after I got promoted that we had the anhydrous spill here ... and I remember that very well," he said. "There were a lot of people who just didn't know what was happening. They didn't know if they should try and leave their homes or if they should try to stay put. In most cases we determined it was better for people to shelter in place. There were people who left their homes."
The train derailment causing the spill on Jan. 18, 2002, killed one and sent many others to the hospital with damaged lungs and eyes. The event by the account of one survivor made people fear for their lives. That's a story Huag doesn't forget, but no particular story stands out as something that haunts him from his years in law enforcement.
"I haven't had anything haunt me. There's cases that you never forget, but I've never had anything that has haunted me," he said. What he does remember, though, are the everyday tragedies, "fatality accidents. Incidents involving weapons. Calls that could have turned out a lot worse than they did."
The horrible scenes and stories haven't gotten any easier over the years, though.
"No, I can't say that's changed a whole lot. It still ... has an impact on a person, I think, no matter how long they've been on the job."
The "passion" of his career, though, has been his work in the bomb squad which he led for many years before handing the position over to Sgt. Dale Plessas on the first of this year. Despite no longer being the head of the unit, he is still an integral part of it and would have it no other way.
"We have about 26,000 square miles of coverage," he said of the special operations team, one of four such teams the Minot Police Department has and employs throughout that region. The other special teams are the S.W.A.T. team, the K-9's and the crisis negotiation teams. Minot is one of four departments in the state with all four teams, the others being Fargo, Grand Forks, and Bismarck, which cover similar territory in their own regions.
"We go all the way from the Montana border east over to approximately Devils Lake and then from the Canadian border to approximately Lake Sakakawea," he said.
"Thankfully most threats do turn out to be nothing, but it still causes a lot of disruption when people get them," he said of bomb threats, including the Dec. 2, 2012, threat that turned out to be nothing at the Dakota Square Mall.
"When I applied for the job here I told the chief at that time that I wasn't looking for a job, I was looking for a career," Haug said of that job interview 25 years ago that moved him to a city he had no connection to in order to obtain the career he wanted. "I've just enjoyed the career. I met a lot of interesting people over the years worked with a lot of great people."
One of those people he has served with just so happens to be his son, Shane, who became a Minot Police officer with his dad on May 22, 2002, sharing the same job anniversary month.
"In fact, the day he got the job was on my anniversary day of that year," the senior Haug said.
He said that Shane had never given Larry or his wife of 37 years, Diane, any "hints" that he had wanted to be a police officer and that the choice "hit us out of the blue."
"I was proud that he had chosen that profession," Haug said. "Prior to going into the Marines he had never hinted at that, and I don't know what it was while he was in there that made him decide to pursue that but somewhere in that four-year time period he told us he was interested."
Upon leaving the Marines, Shane went to the police academy held at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake and got his job with the Minot Police Department. When he was first starting out Shane would work the night shift and take classes during the day at Minot State University, eventually earning his bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Larry pinned the sergeant's badge to his son's uniform when Shane was promoted to sergeant on Feb. 11, 2011.
A bright red '66 Chevy is just the latest classic car that Haug has refurbished, and the consummate professionalism slides off Haug just slightly when his eyes light up and his talking speeds up just perceptibly when he describes his preferred hobby.
"I have a thing for old cars," he said. "I've loved cars since I was a little kid and that's been there ever since."
Haug started working on cars as a hobby when he was 11 and got the very first car of his own when he was 12, a 1948 Chevy two-door sedan.
This reporter's lack of car knowledge and ignorance of basic history brought a chuckle from Haug when asked for clarification.
"There weren't any '44 Chevys. Or Fords, or Dodges, or anything. They had a little thing going on called World War II," he said.
He doesn't have too many other hobbies, saying that "the car thing" takes up a lot of his time. But he doesn't need a lot of hobbies because he doesn't have much time, and he still enjoys his day job as much as he always has.
"I'm in the office more now than I used to be. I'm in the office part of the time, out on the street part of the time," he said. "I've got, I don't know, I feel like I've got the best job in town right now."
And he just might. Few people can look back on a full career with as much satisfaction as Sgt. Larry Haug can. He's spent his whole life helping people and all the other police and workers in the office seem to have nothing less than the utmost respect for the man who came to this city 25 years ago with the one job he wanted most, leaving everything else he knew behind.
Some of the things he misses, but not enough to leave the desk and the patrol car.
"I miss the lakes, the trees" of Minnesota, he said. "We get back there. We have family there so we are there regularly. Heading back there tomorrow morning," he said on Wednesday. "The brother-in-law who got me interested in this is retiring tomorrow 42 years with the Cass County Sheriff's Department."
Chief Deputy Jim Thoreson did retire Thursday after a career as "a rock of support" for the department there, the West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen was quoted as saying to The Forum in Fargo.
It will hopefully be many more years before Haug takes the same step into requirement as his friend and the man who inspired him to pursue the job he loves so much. It seems like, as that co-worker of his said before leaving the office, that Haug is "the glue that holds this place together."
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)