Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Every life matters to a social media savvy small town Minnesota police chief July 13, 2016

Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander. Photo from Kenyon Police Department Facebook page.

Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander. Photo from Kenyon Police Department Facebook page.

HOOLIGAN BY DEFINITION means violent young troublemaker.

And although Lee Sjolander is officially a hooligan, as in the percussionist for the Goodhue County rock and country variety band The Local Hooligans, he’s not by any standards a troublemaker. That’s his part-time after hours band gig title.

Kenyon, Minnesota, welcomes visitors to its recent Rose Fest.

Downtown Kenyon, Minnesota, during the 2014 Rose Fest, always held on the third weekend in August. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Full-time, Sjolander serves as the police chief of Kenyon, a small southeastern Minnesota community of about 1,800.

But he’s more than your average small town police officer. He’s also a social media celebrity with a world-wide Facebook following that numbers in the thousands. He recently returned from an invitation only 21st Century Policing conference at the White House. And he’s appeared on a Twin Cities television station and has been referenced by Minnesota Public Radio.

Yet, despite all of the notoriety, Sjolander keeps doing what he does best—caring about the good folks and animals (yes, he picks up strays) of Kenyon and writing about his work, his community, social issues and even the personal struggles he faces.

Sjolander is refreshingly positive. If there’s a problem or need in his community, he seeks out solutions. He helps families find housing, pays for groceries, distributes donated monies to locals who are going through tough times and more. In summary, he cares.

He sports a sprawling tattoo on his upper right arm inked with the words: Every Life Matters. Those same three words are stitched onto his bullet proof vest.

Sjolander has an open book, down-home personal writing style infused with compassion and humor that resonates with the masses. If you aren’t following the Kenyon Police Department Facebook page, I’d encourage you to do so. You will be a better person for having read the chief’s words.

And if you’re interested in meeting the chief and his officers, attend a Friday, July 22, open house starting at 4 p.m. at the Kenyon VFW. It is an opportunity, say organizers, to thank and recognize the police department for its work.

That’s how things roll in small town Kenyon under the policing of Lee Sjolander.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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18 Responses to “Every life matters to a social media savvy small town Minnesota police chief”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    It does not take an army, does it? Just one man doing his job and going above and beyond in ways that others can see and emulate. Thanks for sharing this amazing man with us. He is very inspiring and has such a kind face. Feel good article of the day. 🙂

  2. Valerie Says:

    What a great article about an interesting man. I will checkout the Facebook page. Thanks!

  3. L-O-V-E and Yes Every Life Matters – thanks for sharing – need to share the positive and the kindness each and every day 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. Bernadette Thomasy Says:

    Thanks, Audrey, for introducing me to this kind man. The Kenyon Police Dept. is my newest FB friend. Looking forward to his posts from the heartland.

  5. Sandra Says:

    Thanks for the post Audrey which lead me to do something that I have been meaning to do for awhile now. I’ve reached out to Chief Sjolander and he and I will be meeting next week. We work in neighboring communities and he is as excited to learn more about the Blueprint as I am to hear his words and learn from him. Thank you!

  6. **He sports a sprawling tattoo on his upper right arm inked with the words: Every Life Matters. Those same three words are stitched onto his bullet proof vest.**

    I think I love Chief Sjolander!

    Finding him on Facebook now. xx

  7. chlost Says:

    What a refreshing police attitude in these troubled times. Even though Kenyon is a small town, he has shown what the “serve” portion of “Protect and Serve” means.


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