FOREST LAKE — The newest addition to the ranks of the Forest Lake Police Department (FLPD) has long been a familiar face in the community.
Patrol Officer Luke Hanegraaf is a graduate of Forest Lake High School and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. His curiosity about life in law enforcement was sparked during his junior year of college, while he was completing student teaching.
“I knew that teaching was a passion of mine, but being in the same classroom for a 30-year career was not for me,” Hanegraaf said. “I had multiple family members in law enforcement and knew that I could still help kids and a community without being in the classroom.”
Hanegraaf began his law enforcement career with the FLPD. He served as a police officer on patrol for nearly two years, then as an investigative detective for five. In March 2011, Hanegraaf moved to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Through his eight years there as a Senior Special Agent, Hanegraaf worked with a variety of units, including crime scene, metro homicide and financial crimes.
“When I was with the BCA, I was very fortunate to obtain great training (through) a multitude of different state and federal investigations,” Hanegraaf said of his time there.
When Forest Lake posted an opening for a patrol officer, Hanegraaf applied, finding himself reunited with his hometown police department. Police Chief Richard Peterson said that many qualified applicants applied to the position, but Hanegraaf stood out throughout the selection process.
“I've followed Luke's career as a special agent, and I've been very impressed,” Peterson said. “With Luke’s training, certifications, great personality and attitude, we couldn’t go wrong hiring him back at the police department. Luke is bringing back a wealth of knowledge that only a select few law enforcement officers have while working with the BCA.”
Hanegraaf said that he was excited by the chance to return to the community in which he grew up.
“My hopes are to share the experience and training I have received with my partners (in) the department and to help the department in whatever way I can to provide a safe environment for everyone's families and children (who) call Forest Lake their home,” he said.
Hanegraaf was sworn in during the Jan. 28 City Council meeting. Two months into the new endeavor, he spoke positively of his time thus far.
“It feels great to be back. Everyone in the department has made it an easy transition, and it is a phenomenal feeling to be back in the community that I grew up in and am raising my family in,” he said. “This is a great city with great people, and I feel honored to be back. I look forward to meeting more members of the community and making strong relationships with them.”