American Faces No. 93
“I know I’m here for a reason.”
Not many young professionals approach their jobs with such confidence in their position, or with such purpose. But Collin Bensen believes he has a calling.
The 21-year-old earned his badge as a Minnesota Metro Transit Police Officer in September of 2023. His mother was there to pin the badge on his crisp blue uniform.
When Collin first told his mom he wanted to be a cop, she was worried for him, but she also believed he had an important role to play. “She told me I could be a light at the end of the tunnel for people who maybe hadn’t seen a light for a while,” says Collin.
Collin said growing up, many of his athletic coaches were police officers or first responders. They taught him a lot about what it meant to be a good man, to deal with challenges and to treat people with respect. He was inspired by their dedication to community, and by their brotherhood.
Collin’s perspective on policing, and how he interacts with the people he encounters at the bus stops and on the train platforms every day, reflects the dedication and values – and the mission – he learned from those men, and from his own mom and dad.
“It’s not just about enforcing the law, but about helping people,” Collin says, “You treat people like human beings, you have human conversations, so they know they’re not alone.” He wants to help people in crisis find a better path. “I want them to know that whatever the situation, it doesn't have to be the final destination,” says Collin.
Collin comes to that belief from personal experience. He was adopted as a baby, born to a young girl in a tough situation.
“I was adopted by a loving family. These complete strangers chose to bring me into their family, and gave me a new life,” says Collin, “The man I am now, the kind of man my parents raised me to be, began with that decision to adopt me. I would want other people to feel valued in that same way, to know that kind of acceptance.”
That might seem wishful thinking, given the hard realities of the job. After all, policing comes down to enforcing laws, and dealing with situations where people won’t necessarily appreciate his role.
But Collin says his extensive training – both in the classroom and on the street – and his mentors within the department, have prepared him for the job and reinforced the idea that good policing comes down to treating people as human beings.
“Probably every officer here has had moments where you’re face to face with a person in a tough situation, and it’s really about basic human empathy,” Collin says, “You’re just trying to figure out how to care for that person in front of you.”
Collin is also a realist. He knows it’s a hard job, and with the daily grind – seeing and experiencing some really hard stuff – a person can’t help but get a little calloused. But Collin falls back on a pretty solid foundation.
Collin credits his parents with giving him the opportunity to explore life’s options, and discover his own calling. “I thank my parents. First, for adopting me, and for helping me grow into the man I am today,” Collin says, “I thank them for all the opportunities – the family trips, the sports, the music. They supported everything I wanted to try.”
He also credits his parents for raising him in the church, and helping him discover and grow in his own foundational faith.
“I love this saying that says God gives his toughest warriors the toughest battles,” says Collin, “Whatever the job calls for, whatever happens, I know I have a family. I know I’m eternally loved. And I know I’m here for a reason.”
If you see Collin, or another law enforcement officer, say hello and give them a smile. And though you might feel a little anxious, simply say, “thank you” or “stay safe out there.” You’ll probably make their day. And you may just be the encouragement that helps them shine a little more light into their world.
Photos by: Nielsen Studios
Story and BTS photos by: Scott Whitman