14 new sheriffs are poised to begin their jobs in North Dakota counties next week.
Among the 14 departing sheriffs is the man who has been in charge of law enforcement in his county for four decades.
Jim Olson sat down with the ‘dean of sheriffs,’ Ken Halvorson in Mountrail County.
The display at the doorway to the Mountrail County Sheriff’s office in Stanley has a photo that captures a young Ken Halvorson – and how much has changed since he became a deputy in 1974.
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “That’s the first car the county bought – a ’78 LTD-II.”
Up til then, deputies provided their own cars for work.
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “Almost brought a tear to my eye when we had to drill holes in the vinyl hood of my Camaro to put the top light on. And then a hole in the trunk for the antenna.”
And the deputies’ cars nowadays?
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “We hardly had radios in our vehicles at the time I started. Now they’re like a whole computer center.”
Yeah, things change in four decades. But for Halvorson,
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “I am from Mountrail County.”
some things remain the same.
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “You have to be fair. And sometimes that’s dealing with your friends or relatives and you can’t give them a break more than you give Joe Blow.”
(Wade Enget, Mountrail Co. State’s Attorney) “I think you need to make sure the people, even though you’re investigating them or they’re victims, that you treat them right. And I always thought Ken did that.”
State’s Attorney Wade Enget has known no other sheriff since he started prosecuting in Mountrail County in 1985. He says Halvorson is, number one, professional.
(Wade Enget, Mountrail Co. State’s Attorney) “He was one of those persons that just kept going and going and going.”
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “I like getting up and going to work. I like people.”
He also likes a good laugh – like when he talks about his signature black hat.
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “I like black hats. And I get asked frequently, don’t the good guys wear white hats? Don’t the bad guys wear black hats? And I say, you’re right, bad guys wear black hats.”
And what’s next for the man in the black hat who’s retiring as the longest-serving sheriff in the state?
(Ken Halvorson, Mountrail Co. Sheriff) “If you know of anyone who needs an old, retired sheriff who’s used to working weekends and holidays, have them give me a call.”
In Stanley, Jim Olson, KX News.
Halvorson is the current ‘dean of sheriffs’ in North Dakota – and the man he replaced in the job, Ralph Hamre, held the same title as the longest serving sheriff in the state.