Former Mille Lacs County Chief Deputy Kent Larson has retired after 22 years of service with the county. The chief deputy position is now filled by former Mille Lacs County Sergeant Kyle Burton.
Early on in Larson’s career, he worked as an officer for the Milaca Police Department and a deputy with the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office. He then served as a patrol deputy to develop the school resource officer position at Onamia Schools.
Later, Larson was promoted to sergeant by then-Sheriff Brent Lindgren, a position he held until 2009 when Lindgren appointed him to chief deputy. Larson was reappointed to the position by Sheriff Don Lorge in 2019. During his tenure, he served as a member of the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team from 1993 to 2008.
Larson said the most rewarding part of his job was working with the students and young adults in the Onamia Schools.
“Having their attention day in and day out. trying to make a difference in at least one kids life each day,” Larson said. “It was amazing and rewarding having your kids come back, even years later, looking for advice and help.”
He said much has changed since he began his career in 1993 in the way of respect for law enforcement and what he observed on the breakdown of the family unit.
“If it isn’t on video, it is unbelievable,” Larson added. “Forensics, DNA, computers, 800 mhz radios, and computers in the squads have all been big changes as well.”
One of the biggest challenges of being an officer, Larson said, is “accepting that you can’t save everyone ... you can only do the best you can with what you have at the time and place you are at.”
He added that learning to leave everyone else’s problems and all the bad things an officer sees on a particular shift before coming home to family was also very difficult.
When asked about some of the most unusual things he’s seen, Larson responded, “Every day was different from the last; you get to see people at their worst moments and some at their best. When you least expect it, someone will put it all on the line for someone else. Delivering a baby was awesome, but the best is when someone goes home to their loved ones because you did your job.”
As chief deputy, Larson was the sheriff in the absence of the sheriff. But his main role was to run the daily operations of the sheriff’s office which includes budgeting, working with policies and procedures, adhering to POST (peace officer standards and training) mandates, maintaining equipment, and overseeing major events and investigations, along with managing human resources.
“It’s like being the parent of a huge family,” Larson said.
As far as future plans for Larson, he said he may go back to playing in a small band every now and then, along with working in his shop, hunting, fishing, and being a better husband, dad and now grandpa.