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 had served as an officer for the Milaca Police Department and deputy for 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 Sheriff Brent Lindgren until 2009 when he was appointed to chief deputy by Lindgren. Larson was then reappointed by incoming 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,” said Larson. “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 respect for law enforcement is shown 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.”
The chief deputy acts as the sheriff in the absence of the sheriff. But their main role is 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,” said Larson.
Larson added when asked if he would like to thank anyone, “There are so many that I could not list them all … But I am proud of the deputies, and I was blessed to have such a great team that put their community before themselves and were willing to lay it all on the line for their community. I would also like to thank Sheriff Boser for bringing me to the sheriff’s office and Onamia Schools … Tommy, Chuck and Harry, my FTOs and Sheriff Lindgren for the many opportunities to advance my career. Thank you to Sheriff Lorge for keeping me and allowing me to retire.”
Incoming Mille Lacs County Chief Deputy Kyle Burton said he is looking forward to being in a position where he can help support the sheriff’s office staff. He added, “I am very grateful that I was able to spend the last four months with Kent Larson before he retired so I could shadow him and learn the ropes as I prepared to take his place. This has made the transition very smooth. I am very grateful and honored by Sheriff Lorge’s confidence in me to be his chief deputy, and I look forward to this new chapter in my career.”
Burton has spent his law enforcement career serving with the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to Mille Lacs County, he worked as a corrections officer in the Hennepin County Jail for four years. “I look forward to teaming up with Sheriff Lorge to make sure the needs of all of our staff are met so that they can provide the best possible services to our community in a safe, professional and cost efficient manner,” noted Burton.
As for 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.