Pohlman one of three finalists for police chief

Published 7:43 am Friday, June 18, 2010

Editor’s note: This is the last of three profiles on the candidates for Austin’s police chief opening. The order of the stories was random, and was not intended to reflect the chances of one candidate or another.

Before he ever served his city, Roger Pohlman served his country.

Pohlman, who is among three finalists for Austin’s police chief opening, began his post-collegiate life as a member of the U.S. Air Force in 1986. Today, he is a police lieutenant in the city of Grand Forks, N.D.

The decision to join the Air Force was largely one of necessity. Pohlman had started farming with his father in Jackson, Minn., after completing vocational school, but the mid-1980s was a hard time to enter that industry, Pohlman said, so he looked for something more.

“That’s how I ended up in the military,” Pohlman said. “You have to put food on the table.”

While in the Air Force, Pohlman traveled to places as far away as Germany and Turkey. During this time, the lieutenant said, he learned valuable lessons about leadership and responsibility.

With those skills in tow, he began his career with the Grand Forks Police Department in 1996 as an officer. The transition between the military and civilian law enforcement has gone well, Pohlman said, and he added that he loves his job today.

“It’s been very good,” he said of his career in Grand Forks. “It’s all about the people.”

But now Pohlman is looking to once again connect with his roots: the small-town farming atmosphere of southern Minnesota. Plus, he’d get to reunite with family, many of whom still live in Jackson, which is less than two hours from Austin.

“My roots are in the farming community,” Pohlman said.

He said he was impressed with what he saw of Austin when he visited prior to his interview, and he could see himself and his wife settling down in the area.

Both are outdoors-types, with Pohlman saying that he enjoys motorcycle riding and running.

The couple has also raised two children together. Pohlman’s son is attending medical school in North Dakota, while his daughter followed in his footsteps and is now in the U.S. Air Force.

For Pohlman, the jump to police chief would represent the continuation of a career in which he has always looked for new challenges and new ways to take charge.

“I’ve always tried to pursue as many leadership opportunities as possible,” Pohlman said.

In Austin, Pohlman would be in that role again.

“I’d like to see myself as the chief of the Austin Police Department,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity. Austin looks like a wonderful community.”