The protective detectivePublished 1:57pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013
For more than 30 years, Albert Lea Police Department detective Frank Kohl has investigated cases that would make most people shudder.
As a detective of homicides, sex crimes, child abuse and other major offenses, Kohl has learned to deal with the trauma he sees so that he can help other people.
“That’s my goal, to help people,” he said. “I help them through tragedy, I help prevent tragedy and I hold people accountable for tragedy.”
At any given time, Kohl, who is one of two detectives in the department, is investigating 10 to 12 cases.
When he first started as a police officer in 1980 after serving six years in the U.S. Air Force, Kohl said he did so because he wanted an adventurous job — one that wasn’t routine.
Since then, he has changed his mindset and realized how he can help others.
He worked in law enforcement in Iowa for 13 years with the Northwood Police Department, the Worth County Sheriff’s Office and the drug task force for north central Iowa.
He accepted a job in Albert Lea in 1992 and was promoted to detective in 2002, at which time he began investigating child abuse and sex crimes cases.
He has since undergone training for forensic interviewing of children and has become successful at putting cases together.
He serves as a member of the Minnesota Sex Crimes Investigators Association and has twice been nominated for Investigator of the Year.
Kohl said since he first started as a detective in 2002, his caseload has gotten heavier.
“When I started it was really heavy with child abuse and child neglect,” he said. Now, he focuses his time mainly on sex crimes.
He said starting in 2003, the Police Department began encouraging people to report cases of sexual abuse, and he thinks the encouragement is working.
“People are more inclined now to report,” he said. “It’s not that it’s happening more than it was 20 years ago, it’s just that it’s getting reported more.”
In January 2012, Kohl took a part-time position as a medicolegal death investigator with the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, which contracted with Freeborn County. The job gives him more experience with investigating death scenes.
“It’s better for the department. It was good for the medical examiner’s office,” Kohl said. “It was a good fit all the way around.”
With all of his responsibilities, Kohl said he takes time to decompress during his free time by playing the guitar or volunteering with the local Moose Club or the American Legion Leo Carey Post 56.
“I learn to live with it,” Kohl said. “Sometimes people may think that I don’t show a lot of emotion. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, but things that I see do affect me.”