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New officer comes to Fairmont

Officer Josh Walker is the newest addition to the Fairmont Police Department, joining the force on June 21.

Officer Josh Walker recently joined the Fairmont Police Department, coming here from Montevideo, but he is no stranger to the city of lakes.

Walker was raised in rural Vernon Center, graduating from Lake Crystal-Welcome Memorial in 2003.

“Growing up in the area, I spend a lot of time over here, fishing the lakes. I’d come here every weekend to go fishing so I was pretty familiar with the town,” he said.

In 2004, Walker joined the Minnesota Army National Guard and deployed in 2007 to spend one year in the Balkans.

“I started college while I was overseas. We had a lot of free time so I wanted to get going,” he said. “Initially, I got my associate’s degree in criminal justice. Then I went on and got a bachelor’s degree in investigations and law enforcement.”

Walker earned both degrees from Rasmussen College, finishing his bachelor’s degree in just 11 months in 2011 after taking an expedited program with an overload of credits.

“I also was working four jobs then and was a single father of two. I was pretty burned out from college so the odds of me going back for my master’s is pretty slim,” Walker said.

He started is law enforcement career with the Truman Police Department in 2011 and shortly after joined with Trimont, Sherburn and Welcome on a part-time basis. He then became a licensed transport deputy with the Freeborn County Sheriff Department for two years, until becoming the full-time training officer with the Montevideo Police Department where he has worked for the past four years.

Walker currently is following a field training schedule required of new officers, which involves shadowing officers Mike Beletii and Jaime Bleess, and learning the layout of the community.

“One of the hardest things to pick up in a new town is the geography. You’ve got to be able to navigate the streets,” he said. Changing street names, such as Downtown Plaza becoming North North Avenue and South State Street becoming Albion Avenue, and Fairmont’s layout around the five lakes has made this a bit more challenging.

Walker, who filled the post on the Fairmont force left open by the retirement of Sgt. Kevin Kelly, was eager to move to Fairmont for several reasons.

“One of the biggest reasons was the ability to come closer to home, closer to family. I knew all the things Fairmont has to offer. My kids want to do gymnastics, cheerleading, all those things, and Montevideo doesn’t have those,” Walker said.

He has two daughters, Ashley, 11, in the sixth grade, and Emily, 9, in the fourth grade and says his background in the military and law enforcement has led him to be strict with his daughters. He calls them very mature and self-sufficient for their ages, but then chuckles and admits they can be a bit sassy.

Living in Fairmont also will bring his daughters closer to their mother who works at Mayo in Mankato and eliminate hours of travel time for visits.

“Their mom is great. Things may not have worked out, but we parent together very well,” Walker said.

Within the next couple of months, Walker hopes to sell his house in Montevideo, a community about half the size of Fairmont, and rent or buy a house here, even a fixer-upper.

“I refinished the basement in my house. I’m not afraid of the work. I love doing that stuff,” he said.

Walker currently is staying with his parents near Vernon Center. His girlfriend, Samantha Olson, works in corrections in Montevideo and will move to Fairmont after she finishes her degree in psychology and criminal justice in the spring.

“I’ve got a lot of stuff to figure out by the time school starts in September, lots of stuff to juggle. Moving is a lot harder than people think,” Walker said. “But it’s been a good change so far. I like it.”

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