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To protect and serve the community in which he grew up

Finishing up his first week as an officer for the Brainerd Police Department, Brainerd native Nick Karsnia looks forward to serving the community he grew up in.

Man sitting at a table.
Nick Karsnia talks Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, about starting his career with the Brainerd Police Department.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Growing up, many people have dreams of what they want to do with their lives. Often, those dreams change throughout the years.

Finishing up his first week as an officer for the Brainerd Police Department, Brainerd native Nick Karsnia said he always had an interest in becoming a police officer but in high school, he was unsure what career path he wanted to pursue in college.

Karsnia’s mother suggested he take classes to become an actuary as he was good at math, but after his first year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he decided to explore other options.

“It just kind of wasn't really clicking with me,” Karsnia said. “I don't know if I didn't really want to do math the rest of my life.”

Karsnia also took an introduction to criminology class while taking his general classes during his first year at UMD.

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“At the time, I was taking an intro to criminology class, which was really interesting to me and it was probably my favorite class,” Karsnia said. “And I was like, ‘Well, this is really interesting to me. I kind of want to go back and try this,’ because that was my original plan since I was a kid. So I'm kind of living my dream right now.”

Karsnia said it’s the people who drew him into the job — the reasons and the theories behind why people do what they do.

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In his junior year at UMD, a family friend of Karsnia’s who knew he was trying to get into the police field suggested he apply to work as a Brainerd community service officer.

Working as a community service officer over the summer of 2021, Karsnia found his calling and it showed in his work ethic, said Deputy Police Chief John Davis.

“Typically, those community service officers are law enforcement and criminal justice students still in the process of going to school,” Davis said. “It gives them experience working for a law enforcement agency, it gives them a little bit more of an inside look at the profession to help them reaffirm this is probably what I want to do.”

Davis said the Brainerd Police Department is able to use the community service program to look for future peace officers.

Two men standing in uniform
Community service officers Andrew Thielke (left) and Nick Karsnia pose for a picture after being hired in 2021 for the Brainerd Police Department.
Contributed / Brainerd Police Department

“We see who they are as a person — we are able to see firsthand, their work ethic. We're able to see and witness firsthand — which is really important to us — their character, what kind of individual they are,” Davis said. “Not all peace officers are a good fit in every department. It's not good, not bad, it's just you know, that's life.”

Karsnia said working with the department over the summer of 2021 solidified his decision to apply to work in Brainerd.

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“Camaraderie, that's what made me want to come back and work here as an actual officer,” Karsnia said. “I got to know everyone here and loved it. Everyone here was treating me like a brother and I really loved that about (Brainerd).”

While finishing school at UMD, Karsnia applied to work for the Brainerd Police Department. Along with his strong work ethic, he's compassionate, he's courteous and he's respectful, said Davis — all areas where Karsnia fit into the department’s community goals.

“I always tell people I really like to help others,” Karsnia said. “Obviously, people like to help people, you'd like to assume, but it just was one of those things for me. I was one of those guys who always went out of his way to help people. I didn't have a rhyme or reason for it, but that was just one of the things I liked doing. I like helping people and not really expecting anything in return.”

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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