Bill to End Part Time Police Officers Advances

Created: 05/08/2014 7:07 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- They do everything a full-time police officer is allowed to do, but with much less schooling. Minnesota lawmakers vote to stop licensing part-time police officers. Which may affect smaller cities in our area who rely on these part-time officers.

"They go out and patrol the streets, make arrests,” says Kasson Assistance Chief of Police, Kent Burghuis. He’s talking about the licensed part-time officer on his team. Burghuis says they wear a uniform and carry a gun. There's only one difference between full-time and licensed part-time officers, a two year degree. Licensed part-timers instead only need 40 hours of training.

With just eight officers, the Kasson Police Department often rely on part-timers to fill shifts no one else can.

"Our one part time officer that's part time licensed does a fabulous job,” said Burghuis.

Burghuis says once they're hired, year-round training is the same for all officers. So he's glad the proposed legislation grandfathers in current part-time officers, "It won't affect us currently, but in the future it will and it might being some more expense to the city as far a payroll,” said Burghuis.

As for larger cities like Rochester, there would be no impact whatsoever.

"We don't hire part-time licensed officers,” said Captain John Sherwin, with Rochester Police Department. “There are certain requirements that make Minnesota’s police officers the highest educated and best trained in the nation and I think that's what we get when we have a full time licensed police officer,” he said.

Kent Burghuis agrees, saying while it may affect smaller cities like Kasson, requiring the same two year education for new police officers is important.

"We have to know that they're going to be able to do the job and do it safely,” said Burghuis.

The legislation has passed both the house and the senate. It’s awaiting Governor Dayton’s signature.

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