East Grand Forks police start scholarship in name of slain colleagueKen Olson’s name comes up every few years, most often in May when Peace Officers Memorial Day is observed, honoring those who died in the line of duty.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
Ken Olson’s name comes up every few years, most often in May when Peace Officers Memorial Day is observed, honoring those who died in the line of duty.
But Mike Anderson wants the public to be reminded more frequently and more consistently about the East Grand Forks police officer who lost his life at age 25 when he responded to a prowler call at a home on July 19, 1978.
“We want to keep his name alive so people are aware of the sacrifice he made in defense of the city,” said Anderson, a 48-year-old patrol sergeant who is in his 24th year with the East Grand Forks Police Department.
So, Anderson is an organizer of an inaugural charity event on Aug. 3 that will raise enough money to grant at least one $2,500 scholarship in Olson’s name for a person going to school to study law enforcement, firefighting or emergency medical service.
The East Grand Forks Police Officers Association has already offered enough for one scholarship, and Anderson said he hopes the charity will raise enough for three $2,500 scholarships each year, one each to police, firefighter and EMS students.
“It will be cool that, even after his death, Ken will still be giving back to his community,” Anderson said.
Former colleague James Grabanski said students should be honored to receive scholarships in Olson’s name.
“I’ve never met a more genuine, dedicated and focused officer than Kenny,” said Grabanski, who retired from the East Grand Forks police force in 1995 after a 27-year career. “He was a firm believer in the law of the land.
“He left behind a big void.”
Olson, a farmer’s son from Arvilla, N.D., had been with the force four years when he and Detective Sgt. Rick Blazek responded to a call about a prowler. The man who made that call shot Olson in the chest with a shotgun around 2:45 that morning in July.
The shooter was charged with third-degree murder, but his case never went to trial because he pleaded temporary insanity. He spent several months at Fergus Falls (Minn.) State Hospital before being released.
Olson left behind his parents, Marie and Orlando Olson, his siblings Larry, Steve and Julie, and his wife, now Bonnie Olson Andrys. They had been married just four months.
Grabanski, now 73 and living in Grand Forks, said losing a fellow officer in the line of duty remains “devastating,” but added that having an annual event to rally around will provide comfort.
“The brotherhood of officers is strong and binding. None of these young officers worked with Ken, but ‘they know’... and they do not want the citizens of EGF to forget the sacrifice that was made while they slept soundly and peacefully on July 19, 1978,” Andrys said of the rally in a statement on the Officer Down Memorial Page.
If you go
The Kenneth M. Olson Memorial Ride is a 100-mile ride in northwest Minnesota, raising funds for scholarships in memory of the East Grand Forks police officer killed in the line of duty in 1978.
• When: 10:30 a.m. at the VFW Arena in East Grand Forks. After the ride, at 5 p.m., there will be music, children’s games, food and beverages, and an outdoor movie at city’s Folsom Park.
• How much: $20 per bike.
• Event sponsor: The Red River Valley chapter of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club, made up of four East Grand Forks police officers and a border security agent.
Call Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1125; or send email to email@example.com.