UMPD swears in 5 new officers

The new officers still need to complete classroom and field training before patrolling on their own.

Four men and one woman were sworn in as University of Minnesota Police officers in the Radisson hotel on Wednesday.  The five officers bring to 50 the department’s total.

Four men and one woman were sworn in as University of Minnesota Police officers in the Radisson hotel on Wednesday. The five officers bring to 50 the department’s total.

Ian Larson

Five new University of Minnesota police officer candidates in carefully pressed uniforms and polished shoes stood proud as loved ones pinned silver badges to their chests. âÄúYouâÄôre now no longer that guy or that gal from down the street,âÄù University police Chief Greg Hestness said, echoing words spoken to him by a former chief of his. âÄúYouâÄôre that cop down the street.âÄù While the five officers swore an oath of service to the department, they still face several weeks of classroom training and four months of field training with veteran University police officers before they can begin patrols on their own, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. Despite the departmentâÄôs original plan to add 10 officers to the force, that number was halved due to budget constraints. One hundred candidates applied for the positions, Miner said. The additional five posts are expected to be filled in the coming years as the economy rebounds, Miner said. The addition of the five officers âÄî four men and one woman âÄî will bring the departmentâÄôs total police force to 50, Miner said. Scott Smith, a recent University of St. Thomas graduate and one of the sworn-in officers, said he went to college expecting to study business, but he found police work more rewarding. âÄúThere just wasnâÄôt the same kind of job satisfaction in business,âÄù Smith said. The ceremony comes only days after the Minneapolis Police Department, facing a $5.3 million budget cut, was forced to consider axing more than two dozen of its 800 officers. University police have been partially insulated from the hiring freezes and layoffs that have decimated other police forces, because they drew up a hiring plan several years ago before the economic downturn hit. âÄúItâÄôs unusual that weâÄôre growing when places like Minneapolis are cutting back,âÄù Miner said. âÄúBut public safety is a big priority on campus.âÄù Miner said the need for additional officers was clear when comparing the departmentâÄôs size to other Big Ten schools. The 50 officers will be responsible for policing the UniversityâÄôs 52,000 enrolled students and 20,000 professors and University employees. By contrast, Michigan State University, which had a fall 2008 enrollment of 47,000 students, fields 65 officers, said Craig Guadiano, a Michigan State University police officer. University police did not publish advertisements for the openings and instead relied on University and department Web sites and word of mouth to advertise the position. Before any of the candidates ever set foot in the police station for an interview, they took an agility and fitness test. One-third of the applicants opted not to take the tests, Miner said. âÄúIt wasnâÄôt really by design that we did that, but in hindsight it was sort of an initial filtering process,âÄù