by Joni Astrup
He rounded up stray animals, unlocked vehicles when people forgot their keys inside and kept the Elk River Police Department’s fleet in peak operating condition.
Now Community Service Officer II Bob Swenson is retiring after 23 years of service.
He was honored at the Monday, June 20 Elk River City Council meeting.
Swenson started his career with the police department in 1988 as a reserve officer. In 1992 he was promoted to part-time CSO and moved to full-time CSO II in 1994.
Police Chief Brad Rolfe said Swenson picked up innumerable stray pets and more often than not reunited them with their owners. Occasionally larger animals required his assistance as well.
“He developed expertise in animal control and participated in more than one horse and cattle round-up in this city,” Rolfe said.
Swenson worked long hours behind the scenes of the July 4 celebration and the Sherburne County Fair parade and mentored other CSOs, Rolfe said. He also became skilled at opening vehicles when the owner had locked the keys inside.
Rolfe asked Swenson if there was any vehicle he was unable to get into. Swenson said a ‘56 Corvette.
“Fortunately there aren’t many of those around,” Rolfe joked.
Acting Mayor Jerry Gumphrey told Swenson he’s done a great service for Elk River over the years.
“Unfortunately you actually opened up two of my cars for me, too,” Gumphrey said, thanking him for doing so.
Gumphrey then gave Swenson a plaque as Swenson’s family and a number of uniformed officers watched from the audience and applauded.