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Native son is Trooper of the Year

For 21 years now, Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Malachy McCarthy, a Detroit Lakes native, has been keeping the highways and byways of the Rochester district safe for motorists.

In 2007 alone, McCarthy stopped 5,354 motorists and issued 837 citations, 601 for speeding, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He also documented 51 narcotics arrests, and in March of last year, assisted Lake City police with a partial evacuation of the southeast Minnesota city after an ammonia leak.

For his efforts, McCarthy was awarded Trooper of the Year honors by the Minnesota State Patrol.

"I was honored to receive it," said McCarthy in a telephone interview earlier this week, "but I know there are many other troopers out there who are worthy of the honor."

McCarthy, 48, is the son of Detroit Lakes residents James and Elizabeth McCarthy, and grew up in the community with his nine siblings: Clarence, Tim, Brian, Susan, Mark, Marian, Justin and Carol (the latter is currently news director at KDLM in Detroit Lakes).

Though he originally sought a bachelor's degree in social work at Bemidji State University, Malachy ended up following his brothers, Brian and Tim, into law enforcement.

After obtaining an associate's degree in law enforcement from Alexandria Technical College, McCarthy started working as a part-time officer in a couple of rural Minnesota towns before accepting a full-time position with the Minnesota State Patrol, based in Lake City.

He has lived there ever since, putting down roots in the community with his wife of 25 years, Kristen, and their four children: Megan, Kaitlin, Logan and Gretchen.

"Two of them are out of the house now, and two are still at home," McCarthy said.

But while Lake City is now his home, McCarthy said he likes to get back up to Detroit Lakes at least a couple of times each year.

"I'll be there for the Young Life Triathlon in August, and would like to get back for the Lake Swim at the Water Carnival as well," McCarthy said, noting that he has been training for the triathlon in anticipation of getting to the finish line ahead of his siblings.

And while he has worked in the Detroit Lakes district a couple of times, to assist local law enforcement during the WE Fest country music festival in August, he said he now likes to let the younger officers have a chance at it.

"I'm sure they will like it as much as I did," he said, adding that it was fun to be part of the excitement.

One of the things McCarthy likes most about his job, he said, is the "office scenery" -- i.e., the road.

"I enjoy the driving, and being outside," he said. "We're always out seeing different things -- every day seems to bring something new. I also enjoy running into people I know on the road -- that's always a nice surprise."

About eight years ago, McCarthy began working with a K-9 partner, a Belgian malnois by the name of Liaka. The dog lives with the McCarthys, and has become a part of the family.

"It took a little adjustment," McCarthy said of the experience of bringing his K-9 partner home to live with him and his family. "It was like having another child around the house -- only this was a child that needed attention all the time.

"She (Liaka) thrives on attention," he said, noting that this is one of the characteristics of the Belgian malnois (a slightly smaller version of a German shepherd). "The family had to kind of get acclimated to her as well.

Now, McCarthy added, "The kids are moving out and the dog's still here."

Though McCarthy was notified back in February that he would be receiving the Trooper of the Year award for 2007, he didn't actually get the plaque until the ceremony, which was held in mid-April.

"It was nice to receive," he said, adding that one of the best things about it was that so many members of his family were there for the occasion.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454