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Published December 22, 2010, 12:00 AM

Where are they now?: Police captain is now a chief

As the Fargo Police Department’s public information officer, Thorvald “Tod” Dahle grew accustomed to dealing with the public and media when controversy arose.

About this series

The holidays are when we remember years gone by and the memories they bring, both good and bad. Today and each day until Dec. 31, Forum writers will revisit stories from the past and the lives of those who told them.


As the Fargo Police Department’s public information officer, Thorvald “Tod” Dahle grew accustomed to dealing with the public and media when controversy arose.

But the buck stopped at the chief’s desk, not his.

Now, the former Fargo police captain is in the chief’s chair, and it’s been a baptism by fire of sorts.

Since taking over as top cop on Aug. 30 in Lebanon, Ore., Dahle – he goes by “Thor” now, but more on that later – has dealt with controversies involving displacing the homeless, killing a turkey and the city’s first officer-involved shooting in a long time.

“It’s been a challenge,” he said. “It opens your eyes. There’s a big difference between being someone who’s a little bit insulated by the presence of the chief and being the chief.”

Lebanon is a city of about 15,500 people 80 miles south of Portland.

“I certainly wouldn’t call it a high-crime-rate city,” Dahle said. “I’d say it’s like if you took a section of Fargo and set it aside somewhere else.”

Dahle said he fell into controversy right away when a decision was made to use boulders to fill the area under a bridge in a city park to discourage panhandlers and other troublemakers from hanging out there. Some residents were miffed that the move would also displace the homeless, he said.

Then, he tackled the city’s wild turkey problem by obtaining state permits to shoot the birds because the state wouldn’t allow trap and release. When one aggressive turkey was killed, it stirred controversy, albeit on a smaller scale than the firestorm that followed the shooting of a moose cow and her calf in Fargo in 2003, he said.

Most recently, one of his officers shot and wounded a wanted juvenile in the abdomen after the boy slashed an officer’s arm with a knife and stabbed another officer in the chest (his vest protected him).

With 26 officers under his supervision, Dahle said it’s been an adjustment getting used to the smaller force.

Now, about that name:

As Dahle explains, his mom wanted to name him “Todd,” but his dad wanted “Thorvald.” They compromised and gave him the middle initial “O” so his initials would spell “Tod.” He went by that name for most of his life, including his 23 years with Fargo police.

But as he went through the process of becoming chief and had to use his official name, “there was no going back after that.”

“Which has been harder for my wife,” he added. “She can’t get used to that.”

Dahle said he and Colleen miss their many friends in the F-M area and look forward to visiting.

“I suppose, to a degree, part of us is always going to be there in Fargo-Moorhead,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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