By Howard Lestrud, ECM Publishers
A 30-year career with the Minnesota State Patrol came to a close officially on July 1 for Sgt. Curt Mowers, of Brainerd.
Mowers, 55, is well-known through many Minnesota newspapers, including those of ECM Publishers, for his traffic safety column, “Ask a Trooper.” Mowers has regularly answered questions of readers, even from around the nation.
Whether he was answering a question about how long alcohol stays in a person’s system to a question about avoiding a head-on collision, Mowers always took the question seriously and answered it as comprehensively as possible. No questions are stupid, Mowers said.
His charge in the final years of his career with the State Patrol was to promote public safety as a public information officer. Prior to this assignment, Mowers served as an over-the-road trooper. His State Patrol career was prefaced by a three-year stint with the Braham Police Department.
Mowers and two fellow officers were recently honored for their years of service at a public open house at Minnesota Department of Transportation headquarters in Baxter.
Lt. Eric Roeske, State Patrol public information officer and Mowers’ supervisor, said, “Without a doubt, Curt has made a huge impact on traffic safety throughout Minnesota.”
Roeske added, “Curt’s been asked to do more, has accepted more responsibility and is an outstanding example of what we have so much of in this organization: people willing to do what needs to be done to get the job done.”
Mowers also was presented a plaque of recognition by Brainerd Mayor James E. Wallin, who admitted that the message on the plaque was quite verbose but said he needed “lots of words” to describe Mowers’ service to his community and state.
Wallin saluted Mowers for his dedication, common sense and personal pride in service to the state of Minnesota.
Wallin said Mowers’ “words of wisdom for your officers should be a standard part of standard operating procedure for those going into law enforcement as well as those now serving the public.” Wallin called Mowers “a terrific mentor for all officers” and “one of Minnesota’s finest.”
Mowers’ first day in law enforcement was quite notable. He was patrolling as a Braham officer and working with an Isanti County deputy sheriff who was called to a location to investigate a disturbance. The deputy was shot by an unknown assailant but survived due to a bullet-proof vest Mowers encouraged the officer to wear that night.
Mowers’ memory bank of law enforcement highlights is quite large and includes scuba diving while on duty, assisting other agencies in looking for drowning victims; driving and guarding various governors, Capitol officials and Republican National Committee authorities; working for a day with the FBI and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in a huge vehicle crime sting; ticketing famous people; temporary assignment walking beside the Minnesota governor and the vice president of the United States at the Minnesota State Fair; instructing Minnesota School Patrol Training at Legionville and teaching defensive driving classes; co-founding the Crow Wing County Passenger Safety Coalition; working at state and county fairs,; speaking for large and small private and public groups and getting to meet a variety of people; serving on the Minnesota Alcohol and Traffic Safety Association Board and surviving many brushes with death.
Mowers is proud to credit God for the many blessings he has in his life, including his family, which includes wife, Gail, four children and three grandchildren.
Born in Owatonna, and raised in Ellendale, Mowers graduated in 1977 from Ellendale-Geneva High School. He worked at Owatonna Mustang and went to Alexandria Area Vocational Technical Institute for Law Enforcement from 1979-1981. Mowers was hired as a Braham police officer (in Isanti County) in October 1981. He met his wife there and they married in June 1984.
Mowers joined the State Patrol in April 1984, starting in the Marshall District, and was assigned specifically to patrol Jackson and Cottonwood counties. He worked as a road trooper and specialized in motor vehicle and dealer crime for over 10 years. He transferred to the Brainerd State Patrol District in May 1995, was assigned to the Aitkin County station and then transferred to the Brainerd Station in 1997.
Mowers was promoted to sergeant as a safety education officer for the Brainerd District in early 2002.
The safety education position changed to public information officer in 2006, and due to non-replacement of positions, Mowers was assigned to cover St. Cloud and Brainerd districts with heavy emphasis on media. His job title was regional public information officer. In February 2012, he was assigned to his most recent position as regional public information officer to Brainerd, Duluth and Virginia State Patrol districts in more of a public information coordinator capacity.
“My whole career has been about helping people and being proactive rather than reactive; that’s why I chose it,” Mowers said.
What’s next for Mowers? He said he has had various job offers but prefers to focus on a large “honey-do” list prepared for him. He also hopes to do some volunteering, including more involvement in church.
During his years in law enforcement, Mowers said he tried to walk humbly in the line of those who worked hard before him to make it easier for him to do his job.
“Keep the chips off your shoulder,” he said.
“Think of your family before your job and get home safely at the end of your shift no matter what,” Mowers said. He said he is thankful for accomplishing that.