Police Department

Information updated February 2024

The Lester Prairie Police Department can be reached at 320-395-2100. Emergency calls should be directed to 9-1-1.
Police Chief Bob Carlson can also be reached at: chief@lesterprairiemn.us. He generally has office hours from 9 a.m. to noon. The police department is located at 36 Juniper St. N.
The police department’s page on the city’s website, www.lesterprairiemn.us, includes a House Watch Form, to be submitted by residents who are going on vacation so we can give your home special attention when you are on vacation.
It also includes a “Most Wanted” feature. Anyone who would like to remain anonymous when reporting a crime may do so by clicking on the Crime Stoppers of Minnesota link. We prefer to receive our complaints and concerns by phone, however, email is available when you feel it is necessary at chief@lesterprairiemn.us.
We have also used Facebook to inform the public of safety issues and concerns.
The permit to purchase a handgun application form can also be located on the city’s website.

Letter from Chief of Police Robert N. Carlson regarding 2024 Police Department structure:
The Lester Prairie Police Department is a proactive police department involved in Community Oriented Policing Services. The department has three full-time police officers and three active part-time police officers. The police department is responsible to the citizens of Lester Prairie 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Part-time officers worked an average of seven shifts a month. Part-time officers are needed to fill in for vacation, training, special summer shifts and sick time. The part-time officers have also been used for special activities (i.e., Prairie Days and Festivals) and emergencies (i.e., missing persons and suicides). We have also worked with the City of Winsted on better coverage for holidays and weekend day shifts. We will now have an officer on duty covering both communities Saturdays and Sundays during the day.

As the Chief of Police, I am responsible for the administration of the department. I work a regular patrol shift during the day, have taught Drug Abuse Resistance Education (fifth and eighth grade) for 20 years and am now handing those duties over to Officer Vaske,
I also serve as the school liaison officer, and work with the city council and city department heads to make the city work efficiently and effectively. I represent the City of Lester Prairie in the following organizations and associations: President of the McLeod County Chiefs of Police Association, Lester Prairie Community Youth Task Force and the Crisis, Health and Safety and Student Assessment Teams (Lester Prairie Public School). I am also helping the City Council prepare for my upcoming retirement and the process of a transition to new leadership within the Police Department.
If I am not out on patrol, I attempt to have office hours from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and it continues to provide more visibility and availability to the public to meet with us face to face. The City of Lester Prairie has a city website available for your viewing at www.lesterprairiemn.us . You are now able to see, review and fill out information from the convenience of your home. We have our House Watch Forms on the website and we will give your home special attention when you are on vacation if we are notified. We have also put our “Most Wanted” on the website and hope it can be a useful tool for you to help us apprehend those with warrants for their arrest. The permit to purchase a handgun application form can also be located on the website. We prefer to receive our complaints and concerns by phone however email is available when you feel it is necessary at chief@lesterprairiemn.us. We have also used Facebook to inform the public of safety issues and concerns.
Officer Travis Wakefield is the senior police officer and was hired in January 2021. He comes to us from the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office where he served as a Communications Officer for seven years. He oversees the Crime Prevention Detail, Field Training, Fire Department Liaison and National Night Out. We look forward to the exciting plans he has in store for National Night Out this year. Officer Wakefield works a regular night patrol shift.
Officer Emilie Vaske is the third police officer of the department and is a “hometown employee”. Officer Vaske grew up in Lester Prairie and graduated from Lester Prairie High School in 2018. She received her law enforcement degree from Alexandria Technical and Community College in 2020. She was employed as a Corrections Officer with the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office prior to coming to work for Lester Prairie. Officer Vaske oversees the Safe and Sober Challenge Program, Bicycle Safety Program and is now a DARE Instructor. Officer Vaske had her first DARE class this last Spring in Lester Prairie Public School. Officer Vaske works a regular night patrol shift.
Officer Mark Anderson is a half time employee (part time police officer) who has been with the Lester Prairie Police Department the longest of any employee (24 years). He started out as a reserve police officer and obtained his part time peace officer license in 2002. Officer Anderson is a decorated police officer having received the lifesaving award in 2020 and the KDUZ Hometown Hero award in 2003. He grew up in rural Lester Prairie and graduated from Lester Prairie High School. Officer Anderson fills in for vacation, training, sick leave and works night and day shifts when needed.
We continue to receive many phone calls and complaints in regards to Tax Scams, Fake Check Scams, Reloadable Card Scams, Craig’s List Scams, Computer Scams, Lottery Scams and Phishing Scams. Lester Prairie residents combined have had thousands worth of their hard-earned money taken by these scams. These types of crimes are very difficult for local law enforcement to investigate and if the money is sent out of the United States it is impossible for us to prosecute. If it is too good to be true than it is. You should never need to send money to get money from the lottery. Protect your social security number like you would your new baby and change your passwords on your computer or related devices frequently. First Community Bank President Dean Perry and I have made it a point to communicate suspicious financial activity with each other to protect our residents from these crimes. The Minnesota Attorney General also has some very useful information on its website:

We are very proud of our proactive policing efforts as we presented programs to the community that are designed to protect our citizens from crime and educate them in the activities of the police department. We have continued with our proactive police activities to include 5th grade and Junior High DARE, Crime Stoppers of Minnesota, Bicycle Safety, Use of 911 and Cub Scout presentations. This will also be our twenty third year of participating in the “cards for kids’ program”. The Minnesota Crime Prevention Association distributes Minnesota sports cards to member law enforcement agencies that have crime prevention tips on the back of the card. We use these cards as a positive contact with children in our community. We also gave out Dairy Queen “Free Ice Cream Cone” certificates to the children that were wearing their bicycle helmets and driving safely.
We are continuing our work with our partners in the community, Lester Prairie Public School, McLeod County Social Services, McLeod County Public Health and the established coalitions. The Lester Prairie Community Youth Task Force and the McLeod County Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness (MEADA) Coalition. MEADA was developed to educate youth, families, and citizens on the dangers of drugs with a focus on illegal drug use. The MEADA Coalition of McLeod County brings together families, neighbors, school personnel, law enforcement, county agencies, faith communities and municipalities to help develop a county mindset of zero tolerance for chemical use with a special focus on methamphetamine. As a member of the Lester Prairie Community Youth Task Force, we have been working with community members to develop programs and initiatives to focus on underage drug and alcohol use and how to deal with the issues related to drug and alcohol use and abuse.
I am very proud of the work we have done and enjoy the community I work for.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments please contact me at the number listed above or email me at chief@lesterprairiemn.us.

Respectfully Submitted,
Robert N. Carlson, CEM
Chief of Police / Emergency Management Director
City of Lester Prairie