Chief Gilson retires after 26 years of serving, protecting OsakisOpen house for retiring police chief is Friday, April 27, 2-4 p.m. at city hall
By: Amy Chaffins, The Osakis Review
Osakis Police Chief Mark Gilson is wrapping up his law enforcement career on Saturday and he said it’s slowly started to sink in that this is it.
“It’s a cliché, but it has gone by fast,” Gilson said.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve had a number of people tell me they hate to see me go and they thought I did a good job. That’s been nice. Nobody’s come up yet and said, ‘We’re glad you’re going,’ ” he said with a laugh. “If they think it, they haven’t said it.”
Gilson started his career with the Osakis Police Department back in April of 1986; he was hired by Chief Duane Bahn.
He still remembers his first call on his first day of work: “I remember it was a minor crash that happened down by the school on Central Avenue. That was my first call. I don’t know why I remember that, but I do.”
“One of my biggest challenges is having patience in dealing with some of the choices that people make. We’re all human, but to see some of the decisions and things people do is kind of odd. And it seems to be the same mistakes over and over again,” Gilson said.
For example, the chief said he gets really frustrated with people who get themselves in trouble with alcohol, drugs or gambling.
When asked if he has seen people change overall, Gilson was quick to say, “Yes,” and specify how.
“I don’t see people taking responsibility for what they do. The lack of respect kids have for adults – not all – but there’s a significant number of them. People don’t seem to have a lot of respect for themselves anymore, whether it’s self-respect or how they live, it seems more people are looking for something for nothing. There’s an increased sense of entitlement we deal with now that we didn’t before.”
Gilson said he hates to seem so pessimistic, but added that he often tells people, “If you want to be liked, be a fireman because everyone loves firemen. When we get called, nobody’s calling us over for cake and coffee. It’s usually something bad that’s happening, like child custody issues, domestics or crashes – I won’t miss those calls.”
Naturally, he won’t miss the calls that sadly ended in deaths either.
“The murder suicide, the suicides, the natural deaths and crashes – those stay with me,” he said.
Most proud of
There have been many bright spots in his career, Gilson said.
“It’s amazing all the great people I’ve had the opportunity to meet over the years. There are a lot of great people in the community. I’ve been really fortunate and truly blessed to work here over 26 years and I’ve always been very appreciative to be in this line of work and ultimately serve as the chief.”
There are moments he’ll miss, like working with children.
“When they see you in uniform, they light up,” he said.
He said he’s also been grateful to local organizations like the Lions Club and Osakis VFW for helping fund equipment purchases that the department probably wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise – things like defibrillators, in-squad cameras and digital Tazers. He said the proactive support he has received from past and present city council members has contributed to the department’s ability to keep up with ever changing technologies and up-to-date equipment.
“When I started, I wrote reports with carbon paper, pens and a typewriter. The equipment now is amazing,” he said.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the number of people I’ve been able to give an opportunity to get in this business,” Gilson said. “That’s what happened to me. I was fortunate someone helped me get my license and get a part-time job.”
Gilson became police chief in the fall of 1998.
In hiring Officer Chad Gulbranson, Gilson helped him in his career, and now, Gulbranson will take over as chief of police April 29.
Here’s Gilson’s advice to Gulbranson: “Making tough decisions is part of the job. Take charge and make decisions with the best possible motives.”
Through his career, Gilson said he’s remained a well-rounded person by not becoming entrenched in all-things-law-enforcement. He said he has many hobbies he’s enjoyed over the years and he’s looking forward to delving into them in retirement.
“I collect old John Deere tractors and machinery and fix them up, I enjoy golfing – maybe I’ll get to do a little more of that. I have a boat I’d like to get in the water more than twice a year. I imagine I’ll do some work – helping friends with construction or farming. I have horses so maybe I can do more riding,” he said.
Gilson wanted to be sure to note how much he appreciates his family’s support during his law enforcement career.
Gilson and his wife, Kathy, have been married 27 years and they have two sons, David and Dustin.
“This career has not been all that easy on them and I certainly thank them for their support,” he said.
Gilson was also in the National Guard for 22 years – he served from April 1979 to August 2001.
Q & A with the chief:
Q: First law enforcement job?
A: Gilson worked as a part-time police officer for the city of Randall in 1984.
Q: What will he miss most?
A: Interacting with little kids.
Q: What will he miss least?
A: Taking calls on child custody disputes.
Q: His advice to the new police chief?
A: “Take charge and make decisions with the best possible motives.”
Osakis Police Officer Chad Gulbranson was hired as the new chief of police for the city of Osakis. In next week’s issue of the Osakis Review, Gulbranson will share his vision for the department and what the community can expect from him.