“It’s pretty rare to find someone willing to serve the way Steve did. It didn’t matter whether it was Christmas or a holiday. He was willing to do it all.”
This is how Medina Police Sgt. Jason Nelson summed up Sgt. Steve Lundell’s 14-year career as a volunteer in the Medina Police Reserves. Lundell retired Tuesday, Oct. 1, after spending over 15,000 hours assisting Medina and neighboring police and fire departments, as well as area citizens.
He was not a simple police reservist. In 1999 Medina decided to bring back on line a police reserve program that had lain dormant for years. Lundell was the first person to serve in the new Medina Police Reserves and helped build up the program to as many as eight volunteer reservists. Currently, six men and women serve as Medina reservists, said Sgt. Mike Chorley, who has served with Lundell for 13 years in the police reserves.
When Lundell retired, people in Medina did not let him quietly drive into the sunrise in his newly purchased RV. First, the Medina City Council presented him with a plaque and a resolution that says, “Steve’s leadership has grown the Medina Reserve Program to a unit that is recognized as one of the best in Hennepin County.”
After the City Council recognized Lundell, the Loretto and Hamel Volunteer Fire Departments donated food for his retirement reception, at which people talked about him publicly and behind his back.
Medina City Councilor Melissa Martinson said she was amazed at how he had put in more than 15,000 volunteer hours in 14 years. “A part-time job is 1,000 hours a year,” she commented.
And, until recently, Lundell was a successful businessman, said Police Sgt. Nelson. On Jan. 1, he retired from his career at Lundell Manufacturing, a family business located in Plymouth.
Nelson said that, any time Medina Police received a big call, his phone would be ringing before he had time to assess the situation. Lundell would be on the other end of the line asking, “Do you need some help?”
“This made a big difference in how we did things,” Nelson said.
Ray McCoy, director of West Hennepin Public Safety, called Lundell “Mr. Steady.” If anything major was going on, he always was willing to help with everything from directing traffic at a crash site to getting water to people working at a fire scene.
“He is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and a true gentleman,” McCoy said.
Sgt. Gary Kroells, of West Hennepin, recalled how Lundell was willing to coordinate police efforts related to events such as the Liberty Triathlon that cross jurisdictional lines. This year Liberty organizers changed the route of their event, and Lundell helped neighboring law enforcement agencies deal with the changes.
Hamel Fire Chief Neil Wolfe described the “absolute chaos” that happens when the fire department is called out in the middle of the night. Firefighters have a number of tasks to deal with. “I always was relieved to see Steve arrive on the scene because this meant one less task for us to handle. He has been a dependable asset to the city,” Wolfe said. “He will be missed.”
Reserve Sgt. Chorley said police reserves fill a unique role — being called out in the middle of the night, standing in the middle of the road in the winter. During weekend shifts they come across burglaries in progress, accident scenes and more. They set up the scenes so that real police officers can investigate what happened and pursue criminals.
Reservists have to deal with traffic, people who are considering suicide, missing children, serious things that need attention. “Not many people are willing to do that,” Chorley said.
“Police Reserves don’t get the glorious jobs,” Police Sgt. Nelson said. “They deal with people who are not happy.” He said Lundell “truly was willing to do anything for the city, including picking up garbage from the road.”
Now Lundell is a full-time grandpa and proud owner of a 42-foot RV, a home on wheels equipped with amenities such as a king-size bed.
He said it was time to give up his work as a police reservist. He couldn’t be gone for months at a time during his travels to warmer climates and also continue as a reservist. “It simply wouldn’t work,” Lundell said.
Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]