Grants to Let Minn. Sheriff's Office Recruit, Train 2 Untraditional Employees

April 24, 2024
Two grants from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Justice Programs will go to the Freeborn County Sheriff's Office for people looking to transition into law enforcement careers.

The Freeborn County Sheriff's Office is utilizing two state grants in its efforts to fill open law enforcement positions in the department.

The Sheriff's Office was awarded two $50,000 Minnesota Intensive Comprehensive Peace Officer Education and Training Program grants through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Justice Programs that it plans to use to recruit and train two people looking to transition their careers into law enforcement.

The grants would go toward tuition, housing, mileage, wages and fringe benefits of the selected candidates, said Sheriff Ryan Shea. The individuals, who must have previously earned a two-year or four-year degree in something other than law enforcement, would be put on the Sheriff's Office payroll as they go through a shortened five-month program from Oct. 2 through Feb. 28 at Alexandria Technical and Community College.

Starting wages for each would be $43,000, and tuition for each is expected at about $20,600, he said. Adding in estimated housing and mileage costs, Shea estimated the cost to the county would be under $20,000 for each candidate after the grant, which he said had already been budgeted for as positions that have not been able to be filled.

He said the Sheriff's Office has had a difficult time of hiring candidates in law enforcement and he hopes the grant will help alleviate that.

"The local pool has kind of dried up, so we don't have local people that we're able to hire," Shea said. "We have to reach outside the boundaries of Freeborn County to hire people. This allows us to hire Freeborn County residents who may not otherwise have the opportunity to become licensed peace officer."

He gave the example of a school teacher who wants a career change who may not otherwise be able to stop working and go back to school to change careers.

"I'm hopeful this will expand our pool of candidates and get over this hump of having all these openings," he said.

The program is new and this year has 56 open slots. Shea said the Minnesota State Patrol had previously done a similar program, and now the state is allowing this grant to give other agencies a similar program.

He would like to keep the opportunity to Freeborn County residents first before expanding to others.

Board Chairman Brad Edwin asked if he thought the state would continue with the program in the future, and Shea said he thought it was something the state would continue with, noting there was another cycle of grant funding that would open June 1.

Commissioner Chris Shoff asked what the commitment would be for the individuals, and Shea said he was considering requiring three or five years.


(c)2024 the Albert Lea Tribune (Albert Lea, Minn.)

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