Deputy reflects on 25 years of dutyFormer Lake County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Jerry Norberg once thought someone had stolen the squad car he usually parked at his house when off duty. Norberg went out to go to work and it was gone.
Former Lake County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Jerry Norberg once thought someone had stolen the squad car he usually parked at his house when off duty. Norberg went out to go to work and it was gone.
A dispatcher called all the deputies to come in and eventually the public got wind of it and the media showed up.
Carey Johnson (now the sheriff) had taken the vehicle because his was on the fritz. It wasn’t out of the ordinary, borrowing a car from another deputy. What was unusual was the attention this particular instance drew.
“It was a little embarrassing,” Norberg said. He was reflecting on his career highs and lows in law enforcement this week after retiring as undersheriff Sept. 30 and celebrating the fact last Saturday at a recognition party at the Moose Lodge.
Although he’s only 50, Norberg said it was a good time to retire after 25 years with a badge and a gun – 24 of them in Lake County. He spent one year in Le Center. He said his benefits are good enough to allow the early retirement.
Norberg said he entered law enforcement because a friend of his was studying it and it piqued his interest. He had been muddling around in a bunch of different jobs, he said. He tried college, but found it just wasn’t for him. Law enforcement turned out to be a pretty good fit.
“Anyone can talk to Jerry about pretty much anything,” Sheriff Johnson said. He said Norberg helped him do his job because he’s “technologically savvy” while Johnson isn’t.
“My weaknesses are his strengths,” Johnson said.
Staying on the storytelling line, Johnson told the one about how Norberg got the nickname “Miss Daisy.” It’s based on the film “Driving Miss Daisy” because Norberg would often go on ride-alongs with officers.
Over the years, Norberg said there were some not-so-funny situations to deal with while working for the sheriff’s department and admits he once got in trouble with the law. When he was 16 he was cited for exhibition driving and had his license was taken away for seven days. His mother would have none of it, Norberg said, saying the license would go to her and she would decide when he could have it back.
The tough part of the job was going to accidents – especially with children involved. One accident that really shook him was when a boy broke his neck.
“You grow hard to them,” Norberg said. He said many terrible motorcycle accident injuries could have been avoided by wearing a helmet. He said you don’t look at them as accidents, they are crashes, because “accident” implies no fault.
He was also involved in three murder investigations. “I remember sitting up at the Big Rock tracks [from] 11 p.m.-7 a.m., making sure no one messed with [the remains of]” Chris Thomason. She was the manager of the Waterfront Restaurant in Two Harbors. Arthur Nordahl, the owner of the restaurant, was convicted of second-degree murder.
Another intense moment on the job, Norberg said, was in the early 1990s when a couple committed armed robbery at the Knife River rest area, locking the victim in the bathroom. Norberg said he helped catch the criminals at gunpoint at a motel where the Two Harbors McDonald’s now sits.
Norberg’s last day on the job was also action-packed. It was the day two trains collided north of Two Harbors. He said it happened right at the end of his shift and didn’t have time to respond. He said he thought to himself “I’m glad I’m retiring.”
His life now should be a little less dramatic.
Norberg works part-time at Fastenal in Two Harbors and is running unopposed for a seat on the Two Harbors City Council. He also plans on doing some golfing, snowmobiling, ATV riding, and grouse hunting.
“It still feels like I’m on vacation,” Norberg said of the recent retirement.
He has no plans of listening to a police scanner any time soon. “No, no, no,” he said. “You can’t eat, sleep, and drink that job.”