Page 2 of 2 Previous
Some of Mankato’s part-time officers have extensive educations in other fields and years of training with the department, Miller said. They’re a key part of a community policing strategy, fueled by volunteers and others, that multiplies the city’s public safety force, he said.
Freeing up full-time cops
Almost a decade ago, Carol Whitney took part in Mankato’s “police academy” — meant to give citizens a sense of what officers do. “It stirred my interest,” Whitney said this week.
She spent a year as a volunteer reserve officer before deciding to become a part-time officer. After working days as a salesperson at an auto dealership, Whitney took classes three nights a week, putting in about 200 hours before taking the test for part-time officers — plus psychiatric and physical exams. She passed.
Now Whitney, 58, works several days a month, managing traffic at races, overseeing prescription drug drop-offs and blocking the perimeter at a crime scene or fire. She’s also paged “if something major goes down.”
Being licensed makes her more useful, she said. “We’re able to write a ticket, able to arrest, able to transport someone.” Bringing a resident to the detox center “frees up our full-time officers to go back on the road,” she said.
Recently, Whitney was working an event at the Civic Center when a fight broke out. She called for backup and, along with two full-time officers, made the arrests.
Despite some cities’ concerns, Cornish believes that departments will adjust. “The claims that this is going to cripple them is bogus,” Cornish said. Many police departments have already made the switch to officers with full-time licenses, partly because they require less supervision and paperwork.
In little Gaylord, Minn., officers with part-time licenses were once key to staffing the police force, said Chief Tony Padilla. Now it employs just one. “Back in the day, there wasn’t a big pool out there,” he said. “It was a phenomenal way to get people within the community to serve in the community.”
The city recently posted a part-time job. But it requires a full-time license. A week in, they’ve already received 10 applications.
“Times have changed,” Padilla said. “There’s just so many people looking for jobs right now that have full-time licenses.”
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168