By Kelsie Hoitomt
BOYCEVILLE — Chief Daniel Wellumson announced his retirement from the Boyceville Police Department earlier this month.
November now looks to be his last month as Chief, but he still plans to fill in and be a presence in the community he has called home for 13 years.
Wellumson’s 32-year career began back in 1979 when he enrolled in Normandale College in the Law Enforcement Program.
The Normandale Community College is in Bloomington, Minnesota which is where Dan grew up alongside his parents and six siblings.
Dan graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1977 and then took some time off before starting at Bethel College in the Pre-Med program.
Dan said that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew he wanted to help people. He had an uncle that was an Orthopedic doctor so he thought he would follow in those footsteps.
However, after a semester in the program he decided it definitely wasn’t for him.
He remembered a Liaison Officer that worked in his high school, which prompted the thought of “wow, what other job could I work with people primarily and be a service to people like I wanted to be as a doctor.”
That “light bulb” moment sent Dan to the Law Enforcement Program at Normandale. He spent a year and half there and then graduated with an Associate’s Degree.
The job search began after that, which Dan shared was very discouraging at first even though he had tested well and done interviews well.
The search fell short due to the fact that Dan’s vision wasn’t 20/20 so he failed the physical exams.
It wasn’t until the fall of 1981 that he came to the White Bear Lake Police Department. Dan said that one of his first questions was about their eye requirement and they stated it had to be “corrected” to 20/20.
That response was what Dan needed to get his foot in the door so on March 22, 1982 he suited up for his day as a police officer; a day he remembers very well as it his mother’s birthday.
Dan spent 17 years serving the White Bear Lake community with eight and half years in the patrol unit and then the last seven years were devoted to the school district.
“From the outset, I really had interest in juvenile work and I wanted to be in a capacity to care for kids,” said Dan.
After those years, Dan was asked to be a Corporal, which was a supervisor position when the Sergeant was absent.
At eight and a half years, White Bear Lake then looked at starting a Drug Abuse Resistance Education program or better known as D.A.R.E.
This put Dan’s vision of teaching and helping kids into motion. So after applying for that role, the department flew him out to Los Angeles to train to be a D.A.R.E officer.
At the time, the D.A.R.E. curriculum was 17 weeks long so once back in White Bear Lake, he dove right in and began teaching the program throughout the six public schools and two parochial schools.
“It was really fun because part of what you did as D.A.R.E. officers was building relationships and letting those kids know that there is another adult in their life who really cares about them and wants the best for their life,” shared Wellumson.
“What affects anybody is when they sense that somebody really cares for them and is really really committed to them,” Dan began to explain. “For years at some point in the classroom, I would interrupt the class and I would say, ‘have I told you yet today that I love you’ and then they would all scream out ‘no Officer Wellumson’ and that would give me the opportunity to tell them I love you guys. And that means that I care for you and I am committed to you.”
Dan has carried his philosophy of caring and committing to youth throughout his entire career, which has created bonds and provided a sense of security.
After teaching thousands of D.A.R.E. kids those years ago, Dan has just more recently been reconnected with some of them through Facebook.
Dan was truly delighted to see that they have grown up to be successful adults with families of their own; some have even become police officers.
Aside from teaching D.A.R.E., Dan moved to working inside the schools as a Resource Officer from 1995-1999, which allowed him to be another person students could go to and confide in.
Then in 1999, he decided it was time to hang up his belt and put on some “suspenders” as farmer Dan.
With that, he and his wife at the time along with their four children, moved to a farm north of Glenwood City.
Dan was enjoying the retired farm life until one day, Glenwood City Police Chief, Ray Ista, pulled up to his house and asked him if he would like to take over.
After thinking on the idea for some time, Dan decided to put his uniform back on and take over as Chief.
He was on the department from 2000-2001 before he decided to leave. After that he was approached by another gentleman who asked him to work in the St. Croix County Jail.
Dan said yes to the offer, but that job turned out to be something he was not interested in.
In the meantime, Dan had spent some time on the payroll in Boyceville, doing part time work for their department.
It was during his time at the County that he received a call from then Police Chief, Brian Hurt. Hurt was looking to retire and he wanted to offer the job to Dan as a promotion, since he was already on their roster.
The decision at the time weighed heavy on his mind, but Dan decided to give the role as a small town police chief another chance.
That second chance has turned into a 13-year relationship between himself and the Boyceville community; wonderful years and great friendships made that Dan will forever cherish.
Dan shared that even though he is retiring as Chief, he still hopes to be active in the school system as teaching is his true passion.
He doesn’t wish to cut his ties completely so he plans to also be an on-call officer.
Dan is also going to continue teaching at the college level. He recently began instructing students in the Criminal Justice Program at the CVTC in River Falls.
But most importantly, his focus is now on his mother. Dan has decided to retire from the police force so he and his wife Karen can care for her in their home as she is in the advanced stages of Alzheimers.