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Crow Wing County sheriff appoints new chief deputy

Kronstedt ascended the ranks in the office, promoted to administrative sergeant in November 2013, operations lieutenant in January 2019 and captain in August 2021.

Adam Kronstedt mug
Capt. Adam Kronstedt was promoted to chief deputy of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Capt. Adam Kronstedt will be the new chief deputy.

The County Board approved Kronstedt’s appointment to the office’s second in command during its meeting Tuesday, June 14, and the promotion is effective July 2.

A Brainerd lakes area native, the 42-year-old Kronstedt has spent his entire law enforcement career with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office, first serving as a boat and water intern in 2004 before becoming a full-time deputy focused on recreation and civil process in March 2005. Kronstedt ascended the ranks in the office, promoted to administrative sergeant in November 2013, operations lieutenant in January 2019 and captain in August 2021.

“Recognition is never something I’ve really even felt comfortable with my whole career, so it’s just a matter of making sure I don’t let people down. That’s always been hard for me,” Kronstedt said during an interview after Tuesday’s meeting. “Every promotion I’ve taken or been placed at, it’s huge anxiety, No. 1, to not let those that entrusted me with that rank or responsibility — not letting them down. But No. 2, making sure I’m doing the right thing for the folks that I supervise or I have responsibility for.”

Kronstedt said he wasn’t someone who dreamed of being a police officer as a child. After graduating from Brainerd High School in 1998, he attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth, in pursuit of an engineering degree. Two years in, while driving home from college with his laundry in tow, Kronstedt was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding.

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“The trooper talked to me — super respectful, kind, showed interest in me. And wrote me a ticket, which I deserved,” he said. “And I remember thinking, ‘Man, that guy — he’s a cool guy. And I could do that.’”

Kronstedt said the encounter came at a time when he was losing interest in his engineering coursework, and after returning to college the next week, he began the process of changing his major to criminology. After earning a bachelor’s degree in the field, Kronstedt went on to obtain a criminal justice certificate from Central Lakes College and completed his law enforcement skills training at Hibbing Community College.

He planned to be a state trooper, he said, or maybe a game warden, to satisfy his love of the outdoors. But his parents knew Todd Dahl — a sergeant at the time who would later become sheriff — and Dahl took Kronstedt on some ride-alongs.

“Just seeing how much fun he had on the job, that’s really what pointed me here,” Kronstedt said.

While with the sheriff’s office, Kronstedt has been an instructor in firearms and violent critical incident response, also serving on special teams including as one of the first members of the tactical team, later becoming team lead and then commander in 2020. He also oversaw the Crow Wing County Dive Team and was a diver for six years.

In his role with the dive team, Kronstedt earned a number of commendations related to his work assisting with search and recovery efforts on lakes near and far. Kronstedt twice earned the Medal of Valor from the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association — once in 2014 and once in 2018. The Medal of Valor recognizes an act of personal bravery or self-sacrifice involving risk of life.

Crow Wing County Sgt. Adam Kronstedt received the Medal of Valor from the Minnesota Sheriff's Association for his efforts to save a drowning victim in June. Kronstedt is pictured with his wife, Charlene. Submitted Photo
Crow Wing County Sgt. Adam Kronstedt received the Medal of Valor from the Minnesota Sheriff's Association for his efforts to save a drowning victim in June. Kronstedt is pictured with his wife, Charlene. Submitted Photo

The first recognition came following Kronstedt’s actions during a 2013 incident in which a rural Brainerd man shot at deputies, striking now-Sheriff Scott Goddard in the arm. Kronstedt and Goddard returned fire.

In the second act earning him the medal, Kronstedt responded to a call of a man in the water yelling for help on Gilbert Lake, north of Brainerd. He entered the water with a rope and lifejacket and swam into the channel where the man was last seen. He dove below the surface twice, leaving the rope and lifejacket behind, and emerged with the victim. Others at the scene pulled Kronstedt and the man to the shore.

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“Sgt. Kronstedt's bravery and self-sacrifice undoubtedly involved risk to his own life in an attempt to save another,” stated former Chief Deputy Dennis Lasher at the time. “This performance of duty by Sgt. Kronstedt is a common standard of his extraordinary merit.”

Goddard said Tuesday he field-trained Kronstedt early in his career and he’s become a trusted partner and friend.

“I would trust Adam with any decision and he’s always looking out for the best in others and he’s just a very caring person,” Goddard said. “ … He’s always looking for a common sense approach and a very calm approach to every situation. He’s very good at doing exactly that, diffusing a situation and bringing the calm to the chaos of what we’re dealing with and what we’re confronted with.”

While Kronstedt has several recognitions and career advancements under his belt to this point, the promotion to chief deputy comes under what he described as less than ideal circumstances. In late May, Chief Deputy Andy Galles resigned his position following an external investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of authority . Galles’ last day will be July 1.

“I understand people’s concerns when they’re only given one side of the story, or bits and pieces of the story and they don’t have all the information or the bigger picture. I understand how people can feel. I get it,” Kronstedt said. “I can only tell people that my goal is to do the right thing. The responsibility that I have — have always had in the office — is to share that goal with those that work with me: trying to do the right thing. It is my mission to always try to see the big picture, to try to do the right thing under every circumstance.”

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Kronstedt said he’s proud of the people who work in the sheriff’s office and is particularly impressed with the younger deputies joining the office, noting residents of Crow Wing County should be pleased as well.

“Law enforcement candidates are really hard to come by nowadays, especially good ones. And I’ve always said — well, most recently said — that we are not going to lower our standards, just because the applicants coming in are fewer and fewer. We’re still going to take the same high standards,” he said. “And it’s been proven successful lately, because the guys that are coming in the door are really high-caliber, professional, kind, respectful, have good morals.”

Kronstedt said amid increasing scrutiny of law enforcement, he lives by the mindset of treating people how he would expect to be treated — whether it’s someone in a crisis or someone who’s being arrested.

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“People make mistakes. And that goes on both sides,” Kronstedt said. “We as law enforcement officers — we’re not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, and we make decisions that end up sometimes being the wrong ones. But the only thing is, what do we do after we make the wrong decision? We have to learn from those, change and try to be better.”

Kronstedt is a husband and father of five children — four sons and a daughter. He and his family live in Irondale Township on a small hobby farm, keeping chickens and goats and soon, horses. He is a member of the National Ski Patrol and treasurer of the local ski patrol. He is a small group adult leader at his church and a deacon and has been involved in youth ministry for about seven years.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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