Ask A Chief: Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe

Q: What kind of training do Minnesota police officers receive?

A: All Minnesota Peace Officers (police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, conservation officers, and BCA agents) are licensed and regulated by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, the POST board. The education and training requirements of Minnesota peace officers are some of the most stringent in the nation.

Minnesota peace officers must at a minimum possess an associate degree; many have bachelor’s and even master’s degrees. Future officer candidates must also receive practical skills training, similar to that received at a police academy. Academic and skills training is available through numerous community and technical colleges as well as four-year colleges and universities throughout the state.

Graduates must pass a state peace officer licensing exam before they become eligible to be licensed. Graduates do not become licensed peace officers until they are actually hired by a law enforcement agency.

Up to this point, all of the education and training is at the student’s own expense with no guarantee of future employment as a peace officer.

The officer selection and hiring process varies from agency to agency but most are very thorough and demanding, requiring a written exam, physical agility test, oral interview, extensive background investigation, as well as psychological and physical exams. After being hired by an agency, most new officers go through a field training program of numerous weeks during which their ability to perform as a peace officer is closely scrutinized by experienced field training officers. Most new officers serve a one-year probationary period during which they can be released from employment for any unsatisfactory performance reason.

A Minnesota peace officer’s training and education continues throughout his or her career. Officers must renew their peace officer’s license every three years, which requires that they receive at least 48 continuing education credits during the previous licensing period.

Ongoing training includes first aid, emergency vehicle operations, crisis intervention, domestic abuse investigation, statute updates, criminal procedure updates, response to all hazards and numerous other subjects.

Officers also receive mandatory annual firearms, use of force, and defensive tactics training.

Members of specialized units such as K-9, SWAT, Crisis Negotiators, detectives and others receive even more specialized training. Many officers receive instructor certifications in various subjects which require additional ongoing training and recertification.

The citizens of Minnesota can be assured that their law enforcement officers are some of the best trained and most professional in the country.

Anyone considering a career in law enforcement should check the MN POST Board Web site.

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