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Crosslake cop's presence felt in lakes area

Crosslake police officer Erik Lee has directed traffic on the same corner of the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade for 17 of the past 18 years. Photo by Dan Determan

Crosslake's St. Patrick's Day Parade saw plenty of new things this year, but one thing that has stayed the same is the man directing traffic on the corner of County Roads 3 and 66.

"I think all but one year, I have been down on that corner, smiling and waving," Crosslake police Sgt. Erik Lee said. "That is probably the busiest corner of the parade ... It is a great day in Crosslake. It really is. It is so fun to see the businesses out, especially after this winter with no snow and no snowmobilers. ... It's great to see everyone here."

Lee, a Breezy Point resident, has been enforcing the law for the past 22 years. He has wanted to be a police officer for as long as he can remember.

"My brother told me that he remembers me at 3 years old saying I was going to be a cop," Lee said. "My dad was a police officer. I have an uncle and five cousins who are police officers, so it does run in the family. I have just always enjoyed the thought of serving people. It has been a great profession."

He originally served Breezy Point and Crosby before joining the Crosslake department 18 years ago. He hasn't looked back, thanks to the support from the city's government and residents.

It was during his time with the Breezy Point Police Department that he met his wife, Kathy. The two have been married for 16 years.

His influence in the area does not stop with the Crosslake police. In 2006, he was elected to the Breezy Point City Council, where he served for four years. He ran for the council because he was unhappy with council decisions at the time.

"That was a great learning experience," Lee said. "You can sit back and whine about it, but it doesn't get done unless you step up to get something done. Do I think that Breezy Point ended up better than when I started four years prior? Absolutely."

After his time on the city council, Lee joined the Pequot Lakes Youth Hockey Association, which in his second year combined with Crosby-Ironton-Aitkin to become the Northern Lakes Lightning Youth Hockey Association. With his two sons, Kam and Karter, active in the sport, Lee wanted to aid the association both on the bench and as a member of the board.

"The hockey board has been an experience," Lee said. "It is great to see the kids developing, and it is great to see the association developing. I got on that because I was done with the city council and felt like I still had to do something. Since the kids were so involved in hockey, I wanted to be a part of it."

When his term on the hockey board is completed, however, Lee does not intend to rejoin, instead hoping to simply watch his kids play. He does, however, fully expect to find a new venture to occupy his time.

"I don't know what's next," Lee said. "There is something, though, because I can't sit idle."

One thing he plans to do with his time is devote himself to the necessary work for Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in Crosslake. He is a part of the Knights of Columbus and volunteers as much time as he can to the church.

Ultimately, Lee plans to devote his time to the two most important things - his family and the police force.

"Crosslake has been great," Lee said. "The only ones around here that have something bad to say about the police department are the ones that have had something happen to them by the police department. The support we get from the community has been awesome."

Dan Determan
Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper