Marc Olson wasn’t even on the force yet when he realized exactly what he wanted to do once he became a cop.
Olson was serving his last day as a Woodbury community service officer when he was called in 2010 to the scene of a serious injury crash at Woodbury Drive and Valley Creek Road. The crash left a young man critically injured; it was later learned the driver of the other vehicle registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.24.
The incident deeply affected Olson, who transitioned from CSO to police officer just days later.
“That was an eye-opening experience,” he said. “I said, ‘I’m doing this – this is why.’”
Olson had made up his mind that he wanted to make DWI stops his highest priority as a police officer.
Now more than three years into the job, he’s got some hardware to prove that he’s serious about arresting drunken drivers.
Olson was recognized twice this month by Mothers Against Drunken Driving – one for qualifying as a top DWI enforcer, the other for outstanding achievement.
The Woodbury officer’s 38 DWI arrests in 2013 accounted for more than one quarter of all DWI arrests made by the department.
He quite comfortable being known as Woodbury’s DWI guy.
“I’ve assumed that role,” Olson said.
There is a measure of satisfaction, he said, that comes along with putting drunken drivers behind bars.
“Getting them off the road so they don’t hit the van with the family of five – that is the satisfaction for me,” Olson said.
His commitment to the issue isn’t going unnoticed inside Woodbury’s Public Safety Building, either.
“This is something that Marc has identified that he’s good at and he wants to make an impact,” said Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague. “It saves lives. It doesn’t get any more important than that.”
Olson, who also works as a bicycle cop during the summer for WPD, said he found his groove as a DWI enforcer in 2012, when he recorded approximately 35 such arrests.
Police know that heightened DWI awareness means some of the old clues – cars bouncing off curbs or wild turns – don’t occur like they used to. That has meant cops needing to detect subtler cues for possible DWI activity, like vehicles drifting within lanes or rolling through stop signs.
And some not-so-subtle clues – like falling asleep at a stoplight.
Yes, Olson attests, that happens more than most people would think.
“Some of them are just hilarious,” he admitted.
But you’d be wrong to think Olson takes his job anything less than deadly serious.
In addition to concentrating on DWI arrests, he has also assisted with new-officer training on DWIs. He also keeps up on changing case law as it pertains to drunken driving stops.
Olson said he would like to continue passing on what he’s learned to other officers.
“I just want to be a resource for other officers,” he said.
Vague said he’s happy to back that effort.
“He’s in a good position to mentor our young officers and teach them how it’s done,” Vague said.
Meanwhile, Olson continues to aim high. He said no known Woodbury police officer has made a DWI arrest as a bike cop.
Olson is gunning to be the first this summer.
“It’s worth a shot,” he said.