The history of on-duty law enforcement deaths in Greater Grand Forks

Policeman who died this week is the fourth Grand Forks or East Grand Forks officer to die in the line of duty.

An illustration portrays East Grand Forks patrolman Kenneth Olson, who died in the line of duty on July 19, 1978.

The shooting death of Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte on Wednesday was the first on-duty officer fatality for the department since 1966 and the second ever.

Prior to this week, the East Grand Forks Police Department, Grand Forks Police Department and Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department all had lost one officer while on duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks on-duty law enforcement deaths in the United States. All of their deaths occurred more than 40 years ago.

East Grand Forks officer Kenneth Olson was killed by gunfire in 1978. Grand Forks Police Officer Robert D. Martin was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966. And Grand Forks County Sheriff Henry S. Halvorson died in a car accident in 1952.

Kenneth Olson, July 19, 1978

Olson, age 25, responded to a call with Detective Sgt. Rick Blazek on July 19, 1978, regarding a prowler on East Grand Forks' Ninth Street Northeast at 2:30 a.m.

Olson was shot in the chest by the man who made the call and died almost instantly, according to Herald archives.


The man who fired the gun lived at the residence and was charged with third-degree murder. His case never went to trial because he pleaded temporary insanity. He spent several months at Fergus Falls (Minn.) State Hospital before being released.

"Sometimes it's tough to rehash it and to think about it," Blazek told the Herald in 1998. "It's something I try not to dwell on. Not that I will ever forget Kenny. I like to remember Kenny as the friendly, cheerful law enforcement officer that he was. He was very dedicated to his job and I considered him a very good friend."

In 2013, a scholarship was started in Olson's name .

Olson was remembered at a ceremony just two weeks ago.
The grave of former EGFPD officer Kenneth Olson marks his service.

Robert D. Martin, Oct. 12, 1966

Martin, age 27, was working traffic as a motorcycle officer on Oct. 12, 1966, when his motorcycle struck the rear fender of a car turning into a driveway on Second Avenue North in Grand Forks, according to Herald archives.

Martin died at the Grand Forks hospital after the accident.


Martin, a Williston, N.D., native and a U.S. Navy veteran, served the Grand Forks Police Department from January 1965 to until his death. He was survived by his wife, Arlene Gapp Martin.

There's a plaque at the Grand Forks Police Department honoring Martin.

Robert D. Martin

Henry S. Halvorson, March 9, 1952

Halvorson, age 52, was killed in a head-on traffic collision with a truck while transporting a prisoner to the North Dakota State Penitentiary on March 9, 1952, near Tappen, N.D.

The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 10.

Moments after the crash, Halvorson died in an ambulance en route to a Bismarck hospital.

The driver of the truck, Halvorson's prisoner and Leonard Carlson, a Grand Forks County jail trusty, were injured in the accident.


Henry S. Halvorson.

Robert D. Martin

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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