ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'There's an emptiness:' Carrington Police Department mourns tragic loss of chief

"He listened to all of us, he listened to everything we had to say, he took all of our input, he was a team leader," said a member of the department.

An officer raises his right hand during an oath of office
Brandon Sola raises his right hand while being sworn in as police chief of Carrington, North Dakota, during a City Council meeting on Dec. 13, 2021. Sola was killed Tuesday, June 28, 2022, when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed on Interstate 94 just outside of West Fargo while off-duty.
Submitted photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

FARGO — A true servant to his community, state and country, many are mourning the loss of a small town police chief who was killed in an off-duty motorcycle accident .

Brandon Sola was just sworn-in as police chief in Carrington, North Dakota in November, but in those seven months he made a huge difference in the community of 2,000 residents.

His vest hung Thursday, June 30, inside the police station. It has been a tough sight for the five-member department.

"There's an emptiness (...) when we walk in the building and he's not in his office," said Carrington Police Department patrol officer Liz Kapp.

He was a chief these officers had just gotten to know, but one they were looking forward to working for for years to come.

ADVERTISEMENT

"He listened to all of us. He listened to everything that we had to say, he took all of our input. He was a team leader, he showed what it meant to be a team leader. He just had a heart for all of us," said Carrington police Sergeant Chris Ormiston.

The husband and father of five was killed Tuesday night in a motorcycle crash on Interstate 94, just outside West Fargo. The North Dakota Highway Patrol says he was thrown from his bike after it started to wobble, for unknown reasons.

The 36-year-old had just picked it up from a repair shop and was taking it for a ride with his brother. He was in town for training. Sola was a Master Sergeant with the Happy Hooligans based out of Fargo.

"The reality is setting in that he's not coming back," said Ormiston.

Mayor Tom Erdmann says Chief Sola was an easy pick for police chief, sticking out from a handful of other candidates. Sola spent six years with the North Dakota Highway Patrol and brought with him a lot of energy and ideas for the future. Big dollar ideas that he easily sold to the city council, such as spending $60,000 to upgrade outdated radios and adding body cameras.

Helmets are an important part of motorcycle safety, but so are other forms of protective gear, including gloves, over-the-ankle protection for the feet, and eye protection, said Lonnie Bertsch of ABATE of North Dakota, a nonprofit group that provides motorcyclist safety training.

"The first time he come to the council meeting we might have rolled our eyes a little bit, and say, well we need this and this, and this, and we started racking up the dollars," Erdmann said. "But the council got behind him and supported him, and appreciated his leadership."

Another top priority for the chief was the safety of his officers on the street, and sharing his martial arts training.

"The first thing he did was go through some handcuffing techniques to improve from videos that he watched on our traffic stops. And he also assisted us in training us with physical defense moves to protect us and keep us safe on the street," Kapp said.

ADVERTISEMENT

His fellow officers say the loss of Chief Sola is a loss that will take a community to heal.

"This is a big loss. I don't think Carrington has ever had a loss like this," said Ormiston.

Funeral arrangements for Chief Sola are still pending.

A GoFundMe site has been setup for funeral costs and a memorial.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
What to read next
Cass County State's Attorney Birch Burdick said he didn't see a direct conflict in the shooting of Andrew Martinez, but he sent prosecutorial decisions to North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley to avoid the appearance of conflict.
Fargo police are urging anyone with information about this incident, or what may have led up to it, to contact them at 701-235-4493. Anonymous tips can be submitted by texting keyword FARGOPD and the tip to 847411.
The move comes in the wake of a 7-2 decision by the Fargo School Board last week to rescind an earlier decision requiring that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited at the start of each board meeting.
Josey Balenger joined the museum as its executive director on Aug. 1.