Charlie Grafft Oral History
Charles Luverne Grafft was born in Watertown, South Dakota, on July 27, 1927, and moved to St. Cloud Minnesota with his family in 1939. Grafft served with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He returned to Minnesota and pursued a career in law enforcement, first as a justice of the peace, later as the Waite Park Police Chief (1971-1979), and lastly as the Stearns County sheriff (1979-1991). Aside from his work in law enforcement, Grafft volunteered with the Boys Scouts, St. Cloud Amateur Radio Club, and American Red Cross. Grafft and his wife Lorraine were married on February 17, 1947, and raised four children together: Joseph, Peggy, Jean, and Richard. Grafft passed away on February 24, 2003, at the age of 75.
In an interview conducted on February 27, 1992, Charlie Grafft discussed his life in the St. Cloud area, much of which was spent working within the field of law enforcement. Grafft noted that he was originally just a part-time volunteer with local law enforcement, but eventually worked his way up to the position of Waite Park police chief in 1971 and was later elected as the Stearns County sherrif in 1979, a position that he held until his retirement in 1991. Grafft also spoke about many of the challenges of working in law enforcement, highlighting his own experiences of dealing with shortages of funding for his department, and in receiving little guidance on how to train officers and educate them to properly enforce the law. On the whole, Grafft affirmed that law enforcement institutions in the St. Cloud area were (at the time of this interview) presently in much better shape than when his career started, but also emphasized issues like corruption, drug dealing, and gang membership among young people, would be increasingly challenging and costly for law enforcement to grapple with in the future.
Interview conducted by Kevin Schafer
St. Cloud State University, "Charlie Grafft Oral History" (1992). General. 36.