Catching bad guys

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Darin Palmer stands in the lobby of the Freeborn County Law Enforcement Center. He recently was promoted to lieutenant in the Albert Lea Police Department. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

For as long as Albert Lea resident Darin Palmer can remember, he’s wanted to be a police officer.

In fact, as a child, he and his friend both made it a goal to become one some day. Palmer said they wanted to catch “the bad guys” and help people in need.

Now, years later, both he and his friend are doing just what they hoped — Palmer in Albert Lea and his friend in Owatonna.

Email newsletter signup

Palmer has worked for the Albert Lea Police Department for 10 years and just last week became the department’s newest lieutenant.

He said with the budget crisis, he didn’t know if the lieutenant position was ever going to be filled after the death of the late Lt. Phil Bartusek, but he is grateful for the opportunity he has to be in the position.

Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels said the promotion of an officer to a lieutenant was put on hold for most of 2010 because of union concessions that were made to keep another patrolman on duty.

“It was a position that was well-needed because the current lieutenants are working so many hours,” Winkels said.

Palmer is one of four lieutenants within the department.

Prior to Palmer’s time in Albert Lea, he worked for 1 1/2 years as a community service officer in Owatonna and previously as a firefighter in Mankato while attending Mankato State.

He received a bachelor of science degree in law enforcement in 2000 and is a 1996 Albert Lea High School graduate.

Palmer said he’s worked overnights for a majority of his time with the Albert Lea Police Department, but will be on the day shift at least until February.

In his previous position as a corporal in the department, he was a large promoter of community policing. He said he’s been able to tackle some serious issues in the subdistrict he worked in and has made it a goal to build relationships so that people feel comfortable with him, whether for a police issue or otherwise.

Now instead of being in charge of just a subdistrict, he oversees a whole district and several officers.

He is also keeping track of all of the burglar alarms at businesses in the city and has been managing the in-car camera systems in the police squad cars and training officers how to use them.

For 10 years, he has been in charge of the police explorers program and helped it develop.

“It’s been a very good experience,” Palmer said. “It’s a mini department.”

To top it off, he is also a team leader on the multi-jurisdictional SWAT team and is in charge of field operations. The team includes members from Albert Lea and several surrounding communities, including Owatonna and Waseca.

As he adjusts to his new position, Palmer said he has three major goals: first, to become familiar and comfortable in his new position so that he can begin taking additional tasks, second, to continue his education and third, to make sure that he maintains a healthy family life.
Age: 32
Address: Albert Lea
Family: wife, Tonia, daughter, Gracie, 6, son, Alex, 4
Livelihood: lieutenant with the Albert Lea Police Department
Interesting fact: Palmer loves scuba diving and has been as far as Mexico to practice his hobby.