Devils Lake police officer who died in the line of duty in 1953 memorialized

Chuck Wickenhofer
The North Dakota Peace Officers Memorial in Bismarck, where former Devils Lake police officer Nick Ethen was memorialized in a ceremony Friday.

Officer Nick Ethen, who died in 1953 while responding to a break-in at the Peavy Elevator in Devils Lake, was added to the list of names of fallen officers at the North Dakota Peace Officers Memorial Friday.

Ethen responded to the break-in call alongside Ramsey County Sheriff Ray Belford, and according to information provided by Police Chief Keith Schroeder, he collapsed while inspecting a broken window. He was taken to a local hospital but was not able to be revived.

D.W. Kelly, who was mayor of Devils Lake at the time, wrote in a condolence letter to the family that Ethen was “one of the most conscientious and efficient officers in the employ of the city.”

Sheriff Belford’s son, Joe Belford, remembered Ethen from his time growing up in Devils Lake.

“I had the privilege of knowing him and being around him some with my dad when he was sheriff and Nick was on the police department,” Belford said. “I got to know him quite well.”

According to Belford, Ethen was the kind of police officer that invested himself not only in his job, but in the community.

“He was a very good law enforcement officer, but also a man with a lot of personality,” Belford said. “He was a very friendly and upstanding officer.”

Ethen, who was born in 1891, grew up as a farmer in Minnesota before joining the military, eventually moving to Devils Lake in 1942. He became a police officer several years later.

Belford recalls that Ethen and his father got along well, and that Ethen was well liked in the community.

“He and my dad got along very well. I remember as a young fellow, everybody liked him,” Belford said. “He got the job done, and he did it in a very proper and courteous manner. He was truly missed.”