Ahlschlager promoted to Chief of Police
Minneota native Luke Ahlschlager was recently promoted to Chief of Police in LaCrescent, MN.
Ahlschlager, a 1997 graduate, was well known in the area for holding the Minneota boys' basketball scoring record for many years with 933 career points. That has since been surpassed as the number of games being played by teams each year has increased.
Ahlschlager, whose father, Bruce, was a military police during the Vietnam War, initially wanted to join the U.S. Army.
"I had injured my back playing football my senior year in high school and had back surgery after I graduated," Ahlschlager said. "So, I was denied entry into the military."
A friend of mine was in the Law Enforcement program at Alexandria Tech and it sounded like something I was interested in. I liked the idea of 'boot shine' and wearing a uniform, so I enrolled there."
After his first year in the program in 1999, Ahlschlager got a surprise invitation.
"My instructor asked me to come to the graduation ceremony (for second-year students) to help with some things," Ahlschlager told. "To my surprise, I received the Brian Klinefelter Family Scholarship.” I had applied for the scholarship, but had no idea I was getting it until that night."
Brian Klinefelter was a police officer in St. Joseph who was killed in the line of duty. His family set up a scholarship in his name.
After graduating from the Law Enforcement program, it came time for Ahlschlager to begin job hunting.
"Back then it was much harder to get a job because there were so many applicants," he said. "When I applied, there were as many as 60 other applicants for the job. When I became Police Chief at LaCrescent and we had some openings, I only had three applicants."
Ahlschlager knows the reason for this is because of recent events, police officers "were perceived more positively by the public" when he was first starting out.
Ahlschlager sent out his resume to several law enforcement places in southwestern Minnesota such as Lincoln and Lyon County Sheriff's Departments and the Marshall Police Department.
As he was on his way to interview for a position with the prison in Appleton in the summer of 2001, Ahlschlager received a phone call from then-Lincoln County Sheriff Jack Vizecky.
"He offered me a job and wanted me to come over to talk to him, so I did," said Ahlschlager. "I started out working with his position divided three ways; as a dispatcher, jailer and deputy."
Ahlschlager was hoping to land a full-time position as police officer or sheriff's deputy, though, so he continued to apply in the state while working for Lincoln County.
He applied and was eventually hired as a fill-time officer with the LaCrescent Police Department in 2002. Six years ago, he was promoted to sergeant.
Recently, former Chief of Police Doug Stavenau was dealing with health issues and had to take a leave of absence in November of 2021, so the LaCrescent City Council named Ahlschlager the interim Police Chief the following month.
About that time, a senior officer was injured and another moved, leaving Ahlschlager to basically fill three positions while he attempted to fill the missing uniforms. The police force there was already short a part-time officer, too.
"I needed to make some moves, so I went to the council and they were on board," he explained.
The council then learned the chief would not be coming back and told Ahlschlager they were so impressed with the job he had done the past four months that they offered him the position as Chief of Police on a permanent basis, which he accepted on March 31.
"I embrace the challenges of the job and enjoy the variety of duties that being a peach officer brings," he said. "From unlocking a vehicle or changing a tire for a stranded motorist to responding to a domestic situation, not two days are ever the same."
Ahlschlager knows that being in law enforcement today is much different than it was when he first started out working law enforcement.
"Being a peace officer has always been difficult, but now days the scrutiny and pressure we are under is unprecedented," he said. "Peace officers not only have to contend with all the dangers of the job, but have to make split-second decisions that sometime involve life and death."
LaCrescent is a community of just under 5,000 people in extreme southeastern Minnesota in Houston County.
"I believe small communities, such as LaCrescent, peace officers are the tip of the spear for improving overall community conditions, helping people make better choices and problem solving."
Ahlschlager and his wife, Krista, have four children, sons Camron, 18; and Brycen, 13; and daughters Nadya, 11; and Maliha, 9.
"My wife and I live, work and are raising a family in this community, so I am especially devoted to seeing that is safe and respected," Ahlschlager said.