Ask a Chief: Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe

Q: What is the meaning of the term, “the thin blue line”?

Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe

A: The thin blue line refers to the relatively small number of law enforcement officers who stand between civilized society and anarchy. Peace officers pledge to defend citizens, even at the risk of their own lives. People often ask why such a big deal is made out of peace officer funerals; after all there are many other dangerous jobs. The difference is, other than the military, there are few other jobs where a common cause of death is someone intentionally killing you.


More than 20,000 peace officers have died in the line of duty since the founding of this country, 222 of them in Minnesota. Every year more than 150 law enforcement officers die in the line of duty in this country. Approximately 16,000 officers are assaulted each year and 60,000 are injured in the line of duty.

May 15 is National Peace Officer Memorial Day, established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Observances commemorating those who have made the ultimate sacrifice are held across the country. A very moving event will be held at the Minnesota Peace Officer Memorial on the grounds of the state capitol this Sunday. Officers from around the state will stand guard at the memorial all day, with observances culminating in a parade of honor guards, including Elk River PD and the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office and candle light program at 7 p.m.

The event is open to the public. Please visit the event’s link on the City of Elk River web page for more information.
— Brad Rolfe,
Elk River police chief

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