Brainerd Patrol Sergeant Melin retires after 27 years

Melin's advice to younger officers: “The goal is to make it to the end of the shift and go home. Don't let this job wear you down because otherwise you're not going to make it 20 years. You have to be able to let things go. You have to be able to not take things personal. It's tough at first, but over time you learn."

Sgt. Tim Melin of the Brainerd Police Department pauses in his squad car last week before heading out on patrol. Melin's last day on the job was Tuesday, April 21. He has worked for the police department for 27 years. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

When Tim Melin graduated from Staples High School in 1983, he had no idea he would spend half his life as a police officer.

But that’s exactly what he did. Fast forward to 2020, and Melin has had an accomplished career with 27 years in at the Brainerd Police Department. He also served 32 years in the Army National Guard serving as a military police officer. Melin served a 2009 Iraq deployment and retired from the guard in 2015 as first sergeant.

“I knew at age 55 it’s time for me to go,” Melin said of his decision to retire. “This is a young man’s game and I’m an old man in a young man’s game.

“In some fields being 55 is not old, but in this field, when you figure the average person we’re dealing with, having to physically encounter is more than less half my age, it’s time to retire.”


When Melin graduated from high school, he didn’t know what he wanted to do for a career. He decided to join the Army as a way to pay for college with the GI Bill.

In the early ‘80s, the Army had a buddy program where two friends would go through basic training together. One of his friends had already enlisted, so Melin joined, too, to be part of the military police.

“It wasn’t until I was working as an active duty military police officer that I learned, or I got the interest, to actually become a police officer,” Melin said. “I enjoyed the work.”

After Melin finished basic training in Fort McClellan, Alabama, he attended Brainerd Community College in 1989 where he earned an associate of arts degree, and then attended Bemidji State University, where in 1991 he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice. He also took a law enforcement skills training program at Hibbing Technical College in 1991.

Melin served with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office from 1992-93 and started with the Brainerd Police Department in March of 1993.

Melin has filled various roles at the police department over the years, including patrol officer, field training supervisor officer and as instructor for officers to learn defensive tactics, use of force, firearms, tasers and chemical agents. He also was on the Crow Wing County Tactical Team for three years.

“I enjoy working with the officers,” Melin said. “I enjoy helping the community, too, but for me it’s been more about working with all the officers. I got into the training program early on, since 1997. There isn’t an officer that is here that hasn’t gone through some form of the program, including the police chief.”

Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston and Melin have known each other for a long time. They both worked for the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department before coming to the Brainerd Police Department.


“I got to know him then and we worked a little bit together,” McQuiston said or Melin. “And then when I came over here (to the police department), it was kind of ironic that he was my field training officer. We have a lot of history together and have been on a lot of different calls together. ... We'll miss him a lot.”

McQuiston said it will be difficult to replace Melin.

“With all his experience and the different roles he played for us ... it'll be a big loss for our department,” McQuiston said of Melin. “It’ll be an opportunity for some of the younger staff, but it's hard to replace 27 years of experience. He played a lot of really important roles, including patrol sergeant.”

Through the past 27 years Melin said he has enjoyed all police work. He said millennials have created a new challenge as they learn differently than he and others his age learned on the job.

“They grew up in a computer age, where I didn’t,” he said. “I never saw computers until I got to college and they grew up communicating through text messages into the computer.”

Melin said, in police work, knowing technology is great but being a police officer is all about being able to talk to people.

“This is one of the things that we've had to work with the millennials on is being able to be effective with one-on-one communication, face-to-face,” Melin said. “In my generation we didn't have all that so if you want to communicate, you had to actually physically talk to people. Whereas, this generation grew up on the computer and not talking to people other than over the phone, through their cellphones, through text messages or email or Facebook or anything else. “So the challenge has always been when (officers) are out there dealing with the public, is them actually feeling comfortable talking to people. Our voice or our ability to communicate is our most effective tool that we bring into any situation. Yes, we have a gun, we have a radio, we have cameras, we have all these different tools, but the greatest tool that we bring into any situation is our ability to effectively communicate. Being able to have effective communication could mean the difference between you walking away versus situations where poor communication can escalate things to the point where they get out of control. Now, obviously, there's situations that regardless of how effective a communicator you are, it doesn't matter. They're going to spiral and you got to do what you got to do, but an effective communicator can make a world of difference.”

Melin said early in his law enforcement career he learned quickly about how a situation can escalate and an officer always has to be prepared when on duty. In the early 2000s, Melin was on patrol and saw an individual who had a warrant out for his arrest. The individual, who was homeless, pulled into the Brainerd Public Library and he didn’t want to be arrested. There was a standoff, which turned into a physical altercation and the homeless man stabbed Melin in the face with a screwdriver. This was the first and the last time Melin was injured on the job.


Melin said it was in the middle of the day and the man only had a misdemeanor warrant out against him, yet the situation still escalated.

“That’s when I applied for the tactical team with the sheriff’s office,” Melin said. “I wanted to improve my skills, more than what I already had.”

With Melin’s skills and work experience, he has a lot of knowledge and advice for the younger officers coming into the field.

“You have to have a sense of humor and learn not to take this job personally,” Melin said. “The goal is to make it to the end of the shift and go home. Don't let this job wear you down because otherwise you're not going to make it 20 years. You have to be able to let things go. You have to be able to not take things personal. It's tough at first, but over time you learn. ... You do the best you can and what happens, happens. As far as the court and everything else, you can only take care of the things that you can control.”

Melin said it took him a few years to accomplish this mindset, but it is important for young officers to learn.

And now, as Melin handed in his badge and gun Tuesday, April 21, on his last day of work, he is ready for retirement. Retirement will be different for Melin as the world is in the middle of a pandemic. Melin had plans to take the summer off and then go to Italy in September to see his daughter, but now the trip is up in the air with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melin said in the meantime, he will continue to enjoy hunting, fishing and spending more time with his wife, Terry, and their children and grandchildren.

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.


Sargent Tim Melin stands by his squad Thursday, April 16, at the Brainerd Police Department. Officer Melin retired after 27 years as a Brainerd olice officer Tuesday, April 21. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

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