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Mike Carlson was just helping a friend who needed a ride the first time he came to Bristol. Then he met a girl and the rest, as they say, is history. Bristol is home now - complete with a family, four horses, two pigs, 17 chickens, and a job with the Bristol, Tennessee Police Department. Those who frequent Bristol’s downtown have likely seen him patrolling State Street and neighboring corridors on foot - visiting merchants and chatting with shoppers as he makes his rounds. That, however, is just one aspect of his police work. Let’s start at the beginning. A native of Oregon, Mike has fond memories of a childhood spent riding horses and spending time with his grandfather. During a 31-year-career in the U.S. Marine Corps, his grandfather served in World War II, the Korean War, and the earliest days of the Vietnam War. And, although he didn’t talk a great deal about his impressive military service, he made a tremendous impression on his young grandson. So, after graduating from high school, Mike joined the Marines. He was twice deployed to the Mediterranean, visiting faraway lands like Jordan and Kosovo in his role as a Light Armored Vehicle Crewman. He was a driver, gunner and finally vehicle commander, responsible for ensuring both the vehicle and the crew were combat ready. When his active-duty stint ended after four years, he enrolled in college and joined the Marine Reserves for another four and a half years, dedicating one weekend a month, two weeks a year – and eight months during a 2004 deployment to Iraq - to military service. He was married and well on his way to a degree in General Studies from ETSU, when he went to work for the BTPD in 2006. “I started out, like everyone does, as a patrol officer,” he said. “I was still in college, but the department was flexible and tried to work with me. I was able to finish by taking online classes.” He remained in the Patrol Division for several years but was reassigned to the Narcotics Division for a short time before returning to Patrol in 2018. Somewhere along the way, he became a member of the SWAT Team, trained to perform specialized skills required to be part of this elite team. And last year, working under the direction of Capt. Brian Hess and Lt. Greg Brown, he was given duties as a downtown officer and a training officer. On an average day, he walks 5 miles or more while patrolling downtown. He enjoys that aspect of police work, he said, because it gives him the opportunity to meet business owners and to interact with community members in positive ways. Training has become a major initiative of the department, too, he explained, so much of his time is spent designing classes and getting them approved by state officials, teaching courses himself, or working with state and federal officials to bring training programs to our area. If someone in the department needs training, he goes to work finding a cost-effective way to deliver the course. Recently, he worked with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) to bring a Tactical Medical for First Responders course to Bristol for members of the BTPD and nearby agencies. “We have a relationship with FLETC now and they liked our training facility,” he said. “That opens the door for them to come back with other training programs. These programs are provided by the federal government at no additional cost to our department.” Away from work, Officer Carlson said he enjoys life on his small farm, caring for his animals and enjoying the scenic beauty of the area. When a day has been particularly taxing, there’s no better way to decompress, he said, than to saddle up his favorite horse and take a ride. Shout to BTPD Officer Mike Carlson for his service to our country and our community. He’s another great example of Bristol at Work.