Chief Olson’s retirement bittersweet

We’ve known for some time now that Police Chief Jason Olson would be retiring soon. That day, however, has come much too soon.

Friday will be the last day on the job for Olson, who joined the department while still in college a little more than 30 years ago. And what a run he has had since.

Patrol officer, S.W.A.T. Team member, S.W.A.T. Team leader, Chief of Police. Olson has done it all – for the citizens of Minot.

He was a leader, especially during his time as chief, when he became a huge mentor to others on the force. Just as he had been encouraged by the chiefs he served under.

One particular quote in the Prairie Profile of Olson on today’s front page triggered a recent memory. Reporter Kim Fundingsland, who authored today’s piece, related to us how Olson preached about always dealing with people professionally, no matter who they are or what the situation is.

“Many times I’ve told my officers that, whatever they are doing, treat the people with respect whether their actions at the time deserve it or not,” stated Olson. “I’ve always tried to live up to that.”

That was quite evident earlier this month while the chief was at a city council meeting. Near the end of a particularly tense meeting, a Minot resident was allowed to make a public appearance during which he complained at great length about housing issues in Minot and also some personal issues. The man, who admitted he had been escorted out of public meetings before, rambled on and on, well beyond the amount of time he had been given to speak. Mayor Shaun Sipma’s patience wore paper-thin, but to the mayor’s credit he did everything he could in the moment for the resident. As did alderman Shannon Straight, who stepped in and offered to hear all of the man’s complaints following the meeting. The man eventually calmed down and the meeting ended peacefully.

The situation could easily have escalated out of control, but was handled deftly by Sipma and Straight, knowing that Chief Olson was very, very near. Half way through the man’s diatribe, Olson stood up and quietly moved to just off the man’s left shoulder and behind, should a degree of force be needed. Thankfully it wasn’t.

Shown live on the City’s Facebook page, the skill, patience and years of understanding the emotions of people were so obvious in Olson’s moves and facial expression. He never spoke a word, but was standing at the ready if needed. Well done, chief.

That film clip would make a great training video.

Have a most enjoyable retirement. And thanks for helping all of us be safe all these years.