Pederson retires as a Minnesota State Trooper

Sue Pederson of Park Rapids completed a law enforcement career of 33-and-a-half years on April 3.

Sue Pederson and husband Dion pose together in 1989, at the start of her career as a Minnesota State Trooper and while he was working as a Norman County Sheriff's deputy. Dion later joined the State Patrol as well, retiring from law enforcement in 2019.
Contributed / Dion Pederson

State Trooper Sue Pederson has retired after a 33-and-a-half-year career with the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP).

Her name, she said, is near the top of the seniority roster for MSP road troopers, and she may be the last member of her academy class to retire.

Sue Pederson retired April 3, 2023, after a 33-and-a-half career as a Minnesota state trooper.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

“It’s been a good ride,” she said. “It’s been a good job. It’s provided for my family. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people along the way.”

Originally from the small town of Balaton in southwestern Minnesota, Pederson earned a two-year degree in law enforcement at Alexandria Tech in 1989, where she met her husband, Dion.

At that time, they both applied for jobs with the MSP. She was offered the job; he wasn’t. After clearing a medical and psychological exam, she attended what was then an 11-week academy in Arden Hills.


“That’s changed,” said Pederson. “That is considerably longer now.”

Sue retired Monday as station sergeant of the MSP’s Park Rapids-Walker station, a position she has held for about six years. The station’s six troopers patrol Hubbard County and the northern part of Cass County.

Meanwhile, she’d continued to serve as a road trooper and, at times, as a field training officer and background investigator.

Asked why she chose to retire now, Sue said that having started at age 21, she has already reached the age when she can retire with full benefits. “I was eligible for an early out at age 50,” she said. “That’s still being offered. That’s always something that could change.

“We’re mandatory out at age 60. Sitting down with MSRS (Minnesota State Retirement System), they said, ‘You stick around, you’re basically losing money.’ So, it’s time to go.”

Married troopers make it work

In retirement, she said, “I want to learn how to sleep again. I want to, hopefully, start getting better, more quality sleep, and probably just take that time to take overall better care of myself.”

Pederson added that she and Dion – who retired from MSP in 2019 – plan to do some traveling, including seeing their three children: Nolan, 22; Alex, 27, who lives in Tennessee; and Nicole, 29, who is engaged to be married.

Sue served in four State Patrol stations, starting with eight-and-a-half years at Ada-Mahnomen, followed by one year in Aitkin – 1997, the year when Dion did join the State Patrol – and a year in Little Falls. She recalls it as a difficult time for the couple while they commuted in different directions, served in different districts, had radios programmed differently and schedules that “were not friendly.”


She moved to the Park Rapids-Walker station in 1999.

“We have had a great friendship,” she said when asked how their partnership survived all this. “From there, it grew. There’s just that mutual respect. And it was good knowing what he was up to. I understood what his job entailed, and he understood what mine entailed.”

Interesting experiences

Pederson recalled “so many wonderful, five-minute-or-less conversations that I’ve had with people” over the years, including many people who didn’t necessarily want to see her at the time.

Trooper Sue Pederson has served with the Minnesota State Patrol at four stations, most recently as station sergeant for the Park Rapids-Walker station.
Contributed / Dion Pederson

She shared a few memories, such as pulling over a group of women going to a bachelorette party who said, “You need to join us! You’ve got to come!” And again, sharing a “happy birthday” with a child in a car. Wishing a bride-to-be well on her adventure, and admonishing her to stay off the roads.

“Being there for people at their low points as well,” said Pederson. “There certainly has been a lot of sadness with the job, too. As easy as this job can be, it certainly isn’t a job for everyone.”

She recalled crossing paths with people who said they were on their way home after a death in the family, or that their health was rapidly failing – though she sometimes learned they weren’t telling the truth. “Certainly, they’re not going to do any good for anybody if they don’t get there in one place, either,” she said.

She recalled one Christmas Eve when she picked up a man who was walking along the side of the highway, late at night in cold weather. He told her he was traveling from Iowa to somewhere about an hour-and-a-half north of Park Rapids, trying to get home for Christmas, and had gone part-way by bus.

She drove him part of the way before handing him off to a trooper on the Bemidji station, who took him from there. Later, Pederson said, she learned that the man had been in prison in Iowa for assaulting a police officer.


“It wouldn’t have changed anything that I would have done that night, other than it probably would have made me a little more concerned,” she said. “He served his time. However he got there, with his first encounter with law enforcement, on that particular night, in the spirit of Christmas, he ended up getting a ride nearly all the way home from law enforcement. So, I hope it made an impact in his life, too, for the better.”

Pederson said her mom has told her that her work has made her hard. “I said, ‘No, this hasn’t made me hard, mom. I’m still very, very compassionate. Matter of fact, I don’t think you can do this job effectively if you remove compassion from the position.’

She said the job also requires a lot of patience and listening skills. She said she never had her mind made up to issue a citation as she approached a stopped vehicle.

‘I made an impact’

“It’s bittersweet,” Pederson said regarding how it feels to close this chapter of her life. “I know my time mattered. I know I made an impact.

“Everything is constantly changing. The profession is constantly changing. The world is changing.”

She voiced disappointment that law enforcement is not getting the appreciation it deserves. “I think about the different sacrifices that we’ve all taken,” she said. “I’d like to see the oath that law enforcement officers take out there more often (on posters, etc.), so people see what we’re signing up for, like putting others before yourselves.”

She added that she’s thankful to make it to the end of her career, though it’s been a few years since it scared her if the phone rang in the middle of the night. “I always knew that one of us would have been going, and the last few years, I always knew it was me that was going to be going.”

She said a lot of people will be relieved that her career is coming to a close, acknowledging that many people have prayed for her safety and that of others in her profession.


“I would ask that they continue those prayers,” she said. “Others are going to need them, too.”

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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