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Published December 22, 2013, 08:28 AM

Chief and trooper follow law enforcement calling

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The age-old truism rings especially close to home with Williston Police Chief Jim Lokken and his son, Les Lokken, who currently works for the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Jim, who worked the streets as a patrolman in the 1970s and '80s, rose through the ranks as Les was growing up.

By: LARRY GRIFFIN, Williston Herald, WDAY

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Like father, like son.

The age-old truism rings especially close to home with Williston Police Chief Jim Lokken and his son, Les Lokken, who currently works for the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Jim, who worked the streets as a patrolman in the 1970s and '80s, rose through the ranks as Les was growing up.

Though Les didn't know he wanted to be a law enforcement officer until he was college-aged, he took some of his father's examples to heart even if he didn't realize it at the time.

"You hear a lot of stories from when he was younger and on the road from the older guys," Les told the Williston Herald. "They would tell me he was always kind to everybody. It didn't matter who they were, he always treated them like they were still human. So I always set that mentality for myself. Even though somebody can do bad things, if you treat them with a decent manner, they'll turn around and be decent to you."

Neither man wanted to be a law enforcement officer at first. Neither of them spent their days playing cops and robbers and praying it would someday be their reality.

When Jim attended Minot State University as a young man, he majored in math and science. As he continued his college education, he started to realize that he "didn't want to be stuck indoors."

An elective Jim was taking, criminal justice, fascinated him. He spoke to local law enforcement in his hometown of Crosby and learned more about what he could do to become a police officer.

After changing his major to criminal justice and then graduating with that major, Jim obtained a job with the Crosby Police Department. After a year, he decided he wanted to work somewhere else, and put in for a job in Williston instead.

Thirty-nine years later, he is the police chief. Through the years, he rose up from a patrolman to a shift sergeant, to a detective, to head of detectives and finally to chief.

"I'm stuck indoors now," Jim said, with a laugh.

Les originally wanted to be a meteorologist in high school, but changed his mind in college — just like his father had.

"I grew up around it my entire life, so I was familiar with it and accustomed to it, and it was my choice," Les said. "But I think going to into criminal justice, he planted the bug in my ear and said why don't you apply for the highway patrol?"

Les was hired almost right away and worked in Crosby for a year, just as his father had. When the oil boom kicked up, he was transferred to Williston.

"(Being a cop) is the last thing I thought he'd go into," Jim said. "When he was growing up, I was missing basketball games and I was missing football games and I was missing school activities. We never held a holiday on a holiday. We had Christmas the weekend before and the weekend after because I was working or my wife was working. She was a nurse. She worked days, and I worked nights."

Jim recalled some of the advice he'd given his son back before Les started as a highway patrolman,

"I told him that it's a stressful job," he said. "You work nights, you work weekends, you work holidays ... but the camaraderie within the law enforcement community, we're all pretty close and it's like a big family. So you'll always have that big family away from your regular family. He knew all the cops growing up. He knew every cop in town."

"Those were the people I saw a lot, because they were friends of his or going to functions that were law enforcement gatherings," Les said. "I grew up with their kids, I already knew pretty much what that was about. It was part of my life already."

Where most people take a job that moves them away from their families, Les has taken one that puts him in the same building with his father every day.

"We kid each other a lot. I kid him about being a highway patrolman instead of a real police officer. And same token, he gives me a bad time about being just a local cop," Jim said.

"It's fun," Les said. "Seeing him at work every day. If I get a chance to come into the office and see him or something and come in and chat about things. The best thing is, if we have a question or something, about something in the city, I can come down and ask him or one of the detectives or something, and it's no problem. We have that working relationship."

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