Community mourns loss of retired sheriff

Mike Ammend unexpectedly passes away July 20

The Isanti County law enforcement community and beyond are mourning the loss of retired Sheriff Mike Ammend.

Michael Ammend
Michael Ammend

Ammend, 67, of Cambridge, died unexpectedly on Friday, July 20, at Cambridge Medical Center. Services for Ammend were held Tuesday, July 24, at Christ The King Catholic Church in Cambridge.

Ammend and his wife, June, moved to Cambridge in 1988 when he took the position of jail supervisor at the Isanti County Jail. He served in several roles with Isanti County Law Enforcement, including being elected sheriff in November 2002 and re-elected in November 2006. He was also honored by his peers when selected the 2000 Isanti County Law Enforcement Association Employee of the Year.

Ammend retired as sheriff in May 2009, and appointed Russ Monson to the position for the remainder of his term. Monson was then elected sheriff in November 2010.

“Mike will be dearly missed by all of us,” said Sheriff Monson, who also spoke at Ammend’s funeral. “He was a great man, a good friend and an outstanding sheriff. Mike was an example of how a person should be. He was a warm and caring person that could brighten up your day with his smile and easy laugh.  Mike was the best.”

Isanti County Investigator Lisa Lovering first worked with Ammend when she began as a dispatcher in 1991, and Ammend was a deputy.

“He was true working sheriff,” Lovering said. “He was always ready to go out and back up the road deputies at any time. He really loved that part of the job. He was not a politician and did not like any part of that. He was here to help people, not play the political games. He truly cared about people, no matter why you were dealing with him. He always treated people fairly. If there were any issues, he dealt with them right away. He didn’t wait for the problems to get bigger; he would handle them very efficiently.”

Lovering said Ammend was instrumental in helping her move forward in her career.

“Mike was my FTO (Field Training Officer) when I started as a deputy, so he trained me in,” Lovering said. “Since I had already worked as a dispatcher I knew a lot about the county, but Mike showed me how to perform the job as a deputy. He was fun to work with because he had a great sense of humor and often brought some much needed light to some difficult situations. Mike also helped me to obtain some training I needed in order to advance in my career. He would show me upcoming training opportunities that would be beneficial to me in order to become an investigator. He was a true mentor.”

Isanti County Sergeant Chris Caulk began working with Ammend in October 1998 when he was hired as a deputy, and was instrumental in beginning the K-9 program in Isanti County.

“At the time of my hire, Mike was an investigator, and then I worked for him as a K-9 handler under the whole time he was sheriff,” Sgt. Caulk explained. “K-9 Nike and I started under him after the first board meeting after he took office.”

Sgt. Caulk said Ammend always listened to new ideas.

“Mike was a very supportive sheriff and he encouraged his staff to bring new ideas forward. Then if the idea was approved, he encouraged and expected us to make those ideas happen and implement them,” Sgt. Caulk said. “So he allowed us great leeway when it came to implementing new ideas.”

Sgt. Caulk said Ammend taught him a lot about law enforcement.

“Mike taught me many different things, but just to name a few would be that if you put your mind to something and you work really hard at it you can make it a reality, and that just because things don’t occur in the time table that we expect them to occur, does not mean that they won’t occur,” Sgt. Caulk said. “I also learned by watching Mike operate as an investigator and sheriff the importance of listening and working with everyone to solve problems, and treat everyone, no matter what, with dignity and respect.”

Ammend was also instrumental in bringing the less-than-lethal program into the sheriff’s department, a new addressing system, new records management system and overseeing a new jail addition. All the patrol cars were also updated under Ammend that resulted in drastically reducing the amount of time officers were spending filling out paperwork.

“For all of the years that our professional relationships brought us into frequent contact I was struck not only by the straight forward way he dealt with the media but the respectful way he dealt with all Isanti County residents … on both sides of law enforcement,”
said Evelyn Puffer, former editor of the Isanti County News. “The world has lost a good man.”

After Ammend’s retirement, he and June spent time at Fort Myers Beach in Florida in the winter, and summers at their home in Edgewood. But Ammend would still make time for his former colleagues.

“After his retirement, Mike was a person you could still go to and ask for advice and talk to him about things, and he was always ready to give you a straight forward answer,” Sgt. Caulk said. “Even until his very last hour with us he taught us all one very important thing, ‘family is the most important earthly treasure we have.’”

“Mike was a family man,” added Lovering. “He enjoyed each minute he had off of work to spend with his wife and family.  He loved to go to Florida with June in the winter and take his granddaughter Brooke to events that she was going to. He was very proud of his children and they were equally proud of him.”

See the obituary here: