Career lawman sees police work as a calling

by Aaron Brom
ECM-Sun Newspapers

Jeff Beahen is a career lawman with three decades of experience.

He’s done it all — from rookie cop, to sergeant, to assistant police chief, to police chief, to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), and back to being a police chief.

Former Elk River Police Chief Jeff Beahen now is chief of the Rogers Police Department. Photo by Aaron Brom

But many who think they know Beahen might be surprised to hear of his passion for the arts.

“My interests are worldly … fine arts, music, theater and travel,” he said.

The new Rogers police chief and wife, Carolyn, have three children who share Beahen’s passion. Eldest son, Bradley, lives in New York and works for professional theater. He and Carolyn recently enjoyed a trip to Aspen, Colo., to see his son’s traveling performance for the “Avenue Q” musical.

His son, Robert, also is a fine arts person, currently studying percussion at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. And daughter, Katelyn, studies musical theater in Minneapolis.

Beahen credits his family as being his biggest supporter for a challenging profession as a law enforcement officer.

“Police work is a calling,” he said. “Not everybody is cut out for it. There are bad hours. There’s crime. You have to want to do this. How many ball games, plays, meetings, and holidays did I miss over 33 years? A lot. But my family is understanding that I’m passionate about my job and they supported me coming back (as a police chief).”

Beahen, who lives in Elk River, began his career as a cop in Elk River in 1980. He stayed there for five years before working for the Anoka Police Department for 13 years. He returned to Elk River in 1998 as an assistant chief before taking over as chief in 2003. He was chief for seven years before heading to the BCA for a couple of years as the eCharging DWI deployment coordinator.

Working so close to Rogers all those years, he said he was obviously familiar with the town but was surprised when he learned more about its police department.

“I get here and I find a very modern, energized group of police officers and staff,” Beahen said. “Much to my surprise this department is much better and more professional than I had given credit for. These are really good people, as equipped and well-trained as any suburban law enforcement in the metro.”

Beahen also noticed something in Rogers that reminded him of when he started in Elk River 30 years ago. Elk River had just merged with the former Elk River Township, and like Rogers’ merger with Hassan Township, the police coverage area expanded greatly.

He said one of his goals is to integrate Hassan and make the new residents feel comfortable. He said he would do this with good communication and having a presence in the community.

Beahen also comes to Rogers after its department has had some tumultuous recent years, with the departure of the two previous police chiefs.

“One of my goals is to improve the morale and stability of my officers,” he said. “We have great staff but I need to make sure they feel secure and valued, and give them direction. It’s going to have to be a democratic process as far as making decisions, involving every staff person.”

Another goal is organization and accountability.

He also wants to improve the department’s image, and one way is communication with the public. He hasn’t had to go far, as various community members have stopped by to say hello.

“The people have been coming to me,” he said. “I really feel welcomed here. I’ve been doing this for 32 years and have never felt so welcomed. I think that’s what a city is about.”

As the city continues to grow, Beahen said a long-term goal for him and the 14 other officers in his department is not only to expand police coverage with more officers, but to hopefully secure a new police hall.

“The reality is the facility is in dire need of changes,” he said. “We need a cost-effective way to house the department for years to come.”

He understands changes will take time, but he said he’s up for the challenge. And he said he wants the community to know how proud he is to be here.

“It’s truly an honor to be selected as the chief law enforcement officer,” he said. “My feeling is that an entire community has entrusted me with their safety and security. I take my job very seriously.”