Henry Halvorson was working on a major in Spanish his senior year at the University of Minnesota-Morris, with hopes of becoming a teacher and a coach. He had played football at Morris after being a football player and wrestler at Princeton High School.
But Henry, a 1987 graduate of Princeton High School, was intrigued by a visit from a recruiter for the Minneapolis Police Department, later passed a battery of tests, and was accepted for training with the Minneapolis PD with three weeks left in college."I got lucky," he said this week in an interview.
He got so "lucky" that this week, after 28 years as a Minneapolis cop, he was promoted to assistant police chief for the department, beginning next month when Assistant Chief Mike Kjos retires.
The 52-year-old Halvorson said he had an inkling about law enforcement in high school, with some friends going into that field, but was on a career path to be a teacher. He had signed up for the Marines on a delayed entry program but was released from that commitment, went straight to the Minneapolis police academy after getting his B.A.degree at Morris, and became a Minneapolis policeman after a 12-week course.
And now, in about a month, he'll become the assistant police chief for a major metropolitan area in the United States. "I never would have thought of that," he said this week.
He was thrown immediately into a tough assignment as he began his career with a fellow rookie at the Third Precinct in south Minneapolis where there was a high crime rate. He spent six years there, one of those years being 1994 when there was a Minneapolis all-time high of 95 homicides. His next assignment was in the Second Precinct on the northeast side of the city where he was again a street cop for three more years, giving him nine years on the street.
"I always had hopes of going higher," he said, and that happened when he was promoted to sergeant and became a detective, later a field supervisor, and then was promoted to a lieutenant in charge of Internal Affairs where he was also an investigator. And three years ago he was promoted to deputy chief in charge of the professional standards unit for the department. Along the way he earned a master's degree at the University of St.Thomas in 2013.
"You learn where your true friends are," he said about working in Internal Affairs where they investigate alleged wrongdoings by members of the force. "You have to maintain objectivity."
Henry said Chief Medaria Arrandondo came to him and said he wanted Henry to be a part of his team and now Henry will oversee three department divisions — investigations, patrol and professional standards. Training will be a big component of professional standards, Henry said.
"I never pictured it (being promoted to assistant chief) down the road," he said. "You keep working and continue to learn. But I'm happy about it. The chief is a great leader. I'm committed to doing the best I can. It's like being on a ship - you try to make the minor course directions to make things better."
Henry is the second-highest ranked Native American in the department's 150-year history, former chief Janee Harteau being the highest. He said that has some importance because it shows that it doesn't matter what race or gender you are. "You can still do it," he said.
"I was fortunate to grow up in Princeton in the '70s and '80s. There was not a lot of diversity there then and there were some times that I didn't embrace. But you learn from that and move on. I really enjoyed growing up there. The small-town things stick with you."
Henry was on the football and wrestling teams at Princeton and had an impressive senior year. He was a tackle on both offense and defense in football and was an honorable mention all-conference selection. He posted a 24-2 record as the wrestling team's heavyweight and placed third in the section in a weight class that was especially strong that year. He then played football at Morris and was a starter at defensive tackle his senior year, once making 13 tackles in a game and being selected as the defensive player of the week in the conference.
While there he had an unusual happening in a spring alumni game when one of the opponents was his high school coach, Doug Patnode. Patnode, who once held the career record for rushing yards at Morris, had some carries that day and Henry remembers tackling him "a couple times." Patnode remembers it a little differently. "He really hit me hard one time," Patnode told me a few years back.
"Guys like that (Patnode) really helped influence me," Henry said this week, also mentioning line coach Chuck Johnson, wrestling coach Lee Dettmer and Bernie Bottema, a Princeton resident at that time who was also a homicide detective (now retired) for the Minneapolis PD. Bottema helped get the weightlifting program going strong at Princeton. "He was a big influence for me," Henry said.
Henry is married and has four children in grades 12, 11, 10 and 9 at Mounds View High School, and he helped coach his kids' youth teams. Brother Erik, also a Princeton grad, is a shift lieutenant at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud where he has been employed for more than 25 years.
Important time ahead for Minneapolis PD
I asked Henry, given the civil unrest that occurred in Minneapolis last summer after the death of George Floyd, what lies ahead for the department.
"I think law enforcement is starting to see more accountability," he answered, "We're starting to listen to different perspectives.
"We do need to have accountability. Some things need to be cleared up. We need to show citizens we're doing it the right way."
Vikings mess it up, Gopher men's basketball OK
They never led, forced only one punt, and gave up - yes, this is right - 20 plays of 8 yards or more and the Vikings lost 33-27 to a Chicago Bears team that is now in position for a playoff berth instead of the Vikings.
I promised myself I would not yell at the television during last Sunday's game. And I kept that promise even after consecutive running plays on 2nd-and-16 and 3rd-and-16 in the first quarter. Then Coach Zimmer challenged a play that he had absolutely no chance to win and that cost a time out. I still didn't yell.
Then, trailing only 17-10 with about six minutes left in the first half, Zimmer decided go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Minnesota 35 and a predictable run by Dalvin Cook was stuffed. The Bears finished off a drive of 17 yards with a field goal and it was 20-7. I finally yelled at the television - there was no reason to go for a first down at that point in the game. And then Irv Smith dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone and the Vikings settled for a field goal and a 20-10 halftime deficit.
Take away that field goal that Zimmer handed the Bears, have Smith catch that pass for a touchdown, and the Vikings should have trailed only 17-14 instead of 20-10. The Vikings scored 27 points and still didn't win. Kirk Cousins threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, had a TD pass dropped and didn't throw an interception until the final Hail Mary play of the game. The Vikings should have won but the decision by Zimmer, the very bad defense (again) and the dropped touchdown pass added up to a loss as a 132-yard rushing day by Cook was wasted. The bad showing by the defense was a common thread throughout the season and that's the fault of the people making the decisions about letting some people go.
The Gopher basketball team (7-1), as it should have on Sunday after the Viking game, beat a decent St.Louis team 90-82 that was favored in that game and had beaten North Carolina State and LSU. Marcus Carr got 32 points, 14 on free throws, nine of them in the last 3:03 of the game as the Billikens fouled at every opportunity after trailing 75-60, while also forcing a bunch of turnovers with a late press.
I'm afraid the Gophers have tough sledding ahead, with their next five games against ranked opponents, all from the Big Ten. But they have had a unusual statistic so far. They made 34 free throws in the St. Louis game, the most this season by any Division I team in a regulation game (no overtime). And the team is leading the nation in free throws attempted per game at this point. However, the first of those five games comes today (Friday) against No. 4-rated Iowa.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
Jan. 6,1966 — Late wins by Phil Gerth (146 pounds) and Steve Stay (165) got the PHS wrestling team close but the Tigers lost 25-21 to Sauk Rapids.
Jan. 6, 1971 — Former PHS athlete Steve Lindell, who later was the starting quarterback at Army, quarterbacked the 3rd Armored Division to the U.S. Army European football championship while stationed there after graduating from West Point.
Jan. 7, 1976 — .Art Skarohlid had 12 points as Sternquist Implement beat CHC 55-39 in city basketball league play. Jim Cartwright had 18 and Bob Koelman 17 for Sears-Cartwright in a 79-61 win over W.V.D., and Luther Dorr had 18 and Burt Bartz 17 for Security Federal in a 69-51 win over West Side Lumber.
Jan. 1, 1981 — Mike Botzek from Princeton placed sixth in a snowmobile motocross at Alexandria.
Jan. 2, 1986 — Princeton beat St. Joseph, Ind., in hockey, 8-3, as Dean Groebner scored 4 goals and Dan Voce had 4 assists . . . The boys basketball team lost three games at the Granite City Classic in St. Cloud, Jason Gesch scoring 15 and Karl Bekius 14 in a 60-51 loss to Bemidji.
Jan. 3, 1991 — The girls basketball team lost to Blaine but beat Minneapolis Washburn and Walker-Hackensack in a Spring Lake Park tournament. Kris Bottema scored 19 against Washburn . . . Troy Anderson scored 30 points in a 66-53 loss to Elk River as the boys basketball team lost three iat the Elk River tournament.
Jan. 4, 1996 — The boys hockey team won a tournament in Mankato, beating Mankato West and Mankato East as Chris Opskar had 4 goals in one game and Jeff Beckers 3 in the other . . . The girls basketball team won one of three games in the Elk River tournament, beating Minneapolis Roosevelt 44-41 as Mandee Young had 14 points and Tina Hurni 11.
Dec. 28, 2000 — The boys basketball team beat Cambridge 60-54 as Eric Strandberg had 14 points, 16 rebounds and 9 blocked shots. Mark Patnode hit some late free throws after Cambridge got close and scored 12 points . . . Josh Skogen, a 2000 PHS grad, was on the wrestling team at Southwest State and was off to a 3-0 start.
Dec. 29, 2005 — The boys basketball team beat St. Francis 68-46 as Zach Neubauer had 17 points, and Ryan Fay and Scott Roehl 15 apiece . . . The boys hockey team (4-4, 2-1 in the M8) beat St. Michael-Albertville 3-2 and Proctor 4-3 in overtime, Danny King finishing off a hat trick with the winning goal in overtime after getting two goals in the St. Michael win.
Dec. 30, 2010 — The boy hockey team won its home opener, 6-1 over Moose Lake as John Jelinek got the first goal ever for the boys in the new arena and Collin Busness scored twice . .. Mariah Clarin had 25 points and 14 rebounds in a 67-63 loss to Elk River in girls basketball . . . Domenic Fraboni had 23 points and 14 rebounds in a 68-60 loss to St. Francis.
Dec. 31, 2015 — The boys basketball team beat Zimmerman 68-58 as Brady Peterson scored 20, Reed Mitchell and James Flicek getting 13 apiece . . . Brent Chambers and Colton Hellman remained undefeated as the PHS wrestling team beat Zimmerman 46-20 and lost 40-33 to Grand Rapids.
(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the area for the past 53 years.)