East Grand Forks City Council members revisit idea of creating a new position in city's Police Department
The idea would be to recruit current law enforcement students nearing the completion of their training and education for a part-time position being referred to as a “police recruit."
EAST GRAND FORKS – The concept of creating a new position in the East Grand Forks Police Department was considered once again at Tuesday’s City Council work session meeting.
The idea would be to recruit current law enforcement students nearing the completion of their training and education for a part-time position being referred to as a “police recruit.” The students would go through a hiring process similar to what is used for hiring traditional police officers.
Eligible students for the position would be entering or already in their final semester of a two-year law enforcement program, or four-year degree students who only have to complete the Police Academy portion of their education. After completing their education, passing the Minnesota POST Test and completing a background check, the recruits would then agree to be hired by the EGFPD for a minimum of two years.
If they choose to leave the department before two years, Chief of Police Michael Hedlund is recommending they would be required to pay back all funds received during their “police recruit” period.
Hedlund is proposing the recruit position is paid $20 an hour for 20 hours a week.
Hedlund presented council members with more information he has gathered on the potential recruit position since their last discussion on the topic in February. Other agencies – especially those in the Twin Cities metro area – have hired students as part-time community service officers with the intention of hiring them as full-time officers when they complete their education.
“Essentially, we’re kind of committing to them and getting them to commit to us before they’ve become officially post-licensed,” Hedlund said.
Council member Karen Peterson asked what will set the EGFPD apart from other agencies that also are trying to appeal to law enforcement students, and what the department plans to do to recruit officers on a long-term basis. Peterson said similar incentives have been offered for students within the health care field, but they haven’t been very successful for keeping recently graduated students around for long.
“It’s been my experience where you do throw money at these kids and it’s a great concept to start out with and they commit, but then within one year their lifestyle changes or they feel that they can’t do it. Those types of things,” she said.
Peterson suggested recruiting people already in the community who have a law enforcement degree in order to ensure they will stay in East Grand Forks.
“It has been my experience that I would say more often than not these kids don’t stay,” she said. “And so that’s why I like the idea of investing in somebody locally.”
Hedlund said the majority of recruitment for students would be within the East Grand Forks, Alexandria, Thief River Falls, Crookston and Fargo/Moorhead areas.
Council member Brian Larson asked about the possibility of having a scholarship program to attract students already living in and near the city.
“Is there a program where we could spend these dollars to really focus on local people who are interested in criminal justice and help them with their schooling?” Larson asked. “And would that help promote people staying in this position? Because I do think it’s correct that the people that we can recruit from up here into law enforcement are more likely to stay in the position rather than getting someone from the metro area.”
While Hedlund also is recommending the department offer paid internships, he said that is a longer-term process, since the department is currently trying to fill the immediate staffing needs. At present, there are two police officer openings. The internships are being considered as an addition to the EGFPD 2024 budget.
Mayor Steve Gander asked about recruitment for students in high school and those still determining their major at Northland Technical and Community College. Hedlund said he is going to meet with a law enforcement class at East Grand Forks Senior High School within the next month.
The discussion on the recruit position, including a contract drafted by City Attorney Ron Galstad, will be brought back for consideration at a future meeting.
In other news Tuesday, council members:
- Received an update from Fire Chief Jeff Boushee on the emergency management program. Additionally, Boushee briefed the council on the spring flooding outlook and preparation for the thaw.
- Considered renewing a $10,000 sponsorship for the Grand Rides Bike Share program again in 2023. Last year was the first year the city sponsored the program. If the council renews the sponsorship, funding is set to come from the Altru Recreation Partnership funds, which has a current balance of $150,000.
- Reviewed a memorandum of understanding for implementing Bird Rides scooters in the city, including the limits the city can place on the hours of operation and other variables.
- Discussed the next steps for finding an interim city administrator. The council is set to discuss who could fill the interim position at the next work session meeting.