Police officer will be remembered for dedicating his life to Brainerd
For the past 27 years Brainerd Police Officer Michael Lambert patrolled the city streets and responded to thousands of calls — all for the love of serving the citizens of Brainerd.
Lambert no longer will serve Brainerd citizens. The officer died unexpectedly Saturday at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Heart Center in Duluth as a result of complications that developed following heart surgery.
Lambert was 56.
He leaves behind his wife, Jan; their two adult daughters; and a grandchild.
Lambert was hired on his birthday as a police officer in Brainerd in July of 1986. He had plans to retire this fall.
Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston said Lambert excelled at the police department in traffic enforcement, recognizing the importance of adherence to traffic laws and the impact that had in overall community safety. Lambert was especially dedicated to drunken driving enforcement.
“For numerous years during his career, Officer Lambert often times had some of the department’s highest numbers for driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrests,” said McQuiston. “This continued into Mike’s involvement with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). He served for numerous years as the Brainerd Police Department liaison to the MADD Impact Panel.”
In 2004, Lambert was selected by his peers to be the Brainerd Police Department Officer of the Year. Lambert also was active as an advocate for police officer labor relations rights and was a union steward for the local patrol officers labor unit for several years.
“Mike will sadly be missed by his family, the Brainerd Police Department and the community,” said McQuiston.
Sgt. Joy Larson said if you looked up “Community Orientated Policing” in the dictionary you would find Lambert’s name. Larson said Lambert was extremely active in the community through the MADD Impact Panel and Kiwanis Club.
“He was interested in the well-being of the community and he really lived for the city of Brainerd,” said Larson. “The Brainerd Police force not only lost its finest, but the city of Brainerd lost an amazing citizen, he was a great man.”
Larson said, “Mike always told you like it was. He said it like he meant it. You never had to wonder where you stood with Mike. He was open-minded, fair and reasonable.”
Larson had to demonstrate how to use a Tazer and Lambert volunteered to be the subject of the demonstration.
“He had a good sense of humor,” Larson said.
Brainerd Officer Troy Schreifels worked with Lambert for the past 17 years.
“The one thing with Mike is over the years you build a friendship with him,” said Schreifels. “Mike was a hard person to know in the beginning, but as the friendship progressed and you got to know him and you saw what he did behind the scenes, you could see that he had a generous heart. He truly did and I really respected him for that.”
Brainerd City Administrator Theresa Goble said, “City staff is all saddened to learn about the death of Mike. He was very dedicated to his job. Our sympathies go out to him and his family. Mike and Jan were looking forward to retirement this fall and I feel bad that they won’t be able to fulfill their retirement dreams.”
Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said he and Lambert had a friendship that spanned 28 years.
“We were involved in many things together both on duty and off,” said Dahl. “His love for family, his love for service, his passion for the people in our lakes area as well as motorcycles is what we seemed to always focus on.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Jan, and his family as he was a good friend and he will be missed,”
Lambert’s neighbor and friend Steve Suer said his family and he are still in shock with news of the death. Suer said Lambert had undergone heart valve repair surgery in January and seemed to be doing well. Lambert developed complications and had to return for another surgery in Duluth.
“They were going to do the repair work and he just wasn’t strong enough to pull through,” said Suer.
“Mike was a really good neighbor. ... He was a man of great character and integrity. Everything he said had a meaning, a purpose for him to say it. Sometimes I didn’t get it so he would tell me again. He was a great role model for his girls.
“He took a great pride, he knew his principle was to serve his community and he did the same thing with his family.”