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Willmar police chief to retire

Willmar Police Chief Jim Kulset is pictured Monday at the City Council meeting. In a letter dated April 16, Kulset informed the city of his plans to retire later in the summer. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- Willmar Police Chief Jim Kulset is retiring, effective July 23, after 33 years of police work. He has spent almost all his career with the Willmar department.

An official letter of retirement was sent to City Administrator Michael Schmit and the Police Department on April 16, Kulset said Monday.

Kulset joined the department in 1977, after about a year working as an officer in Morris. He worked on patrol until 1980, served as an investigator from 1980 to 1986 and as patrol sergeant from 1986 to 1993. In 1993, he became detective sergeant and was promoted to captain in 1995.

He was named police chief in August 1999, succeeding Dan Strootman.

Changes to the department have been nearly constant over the 11 years he's served as chief, Kulset said. Many changes, including on-board computers and cameras in squad cars, digital recording and dictation by officers, the K-9 unit, the department's chaplain and apprenticeship programs and the crime-free multi-housing program have come in the last decade.

"We keep our foot on the accelerator," the chief said. "We're busy, a great staff does that."

The physical appearance of the department's officers and squad cars has also changed. The officers' uniforms, the patches on their shoulders, the graphics on the cars and even their guns are different. Officers used to carry Smith & Wesson firearms, now every one has a Glock handgun in their holster.

"I'm not going to 'retire' retire," Kulset said, adding that if a good opportunity comes along, he may take it. He expects to continue working as an adjunct professor at the Ridgewater College law enforcement program, work on his farm and spoil his grandchildren.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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