Police force numbers increase with stadium on horizon

Deitan Dubuc, left, helps Adam Hakanson put his badge after the graduation ceremony.

Jules Ameel

Deitan Dubuc, left, helps Adam Hakanson put his badge after the graduation ceremony.

The new faces of law enforcement will soon be patrolling the streets of campus and the nearby neighborhoods of the University of Minnesota. Last week, the University of Minnesota Police Department offered four jobs as part of its plan to build up its force to 53 sworn officers before TCF Bank Stadium is up and running. Downtown, 17 new cadets ready for on-the-job training graduated from the Minneapolis Police Academy last Friday. These two sets of new hires will be going through several months of field training, on campus for the UMPD hires and citywide for the MPD officers. Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer said at least one of the newly graduated cadets will be a permanent officer for the Minneapolis 2nd Precinct , which includes the Marcy-Holmes, Southeast Como, Prospect Park and University District neighborhoods . But before any of the new Minneapolis officers go to a specific precinct, they will go through six months of âÄúfield trainingâÄù where they will work in several precincts and then receive a few more monthsâÄô training before they receive their final assignments, Palmer said. University police have a shorter training time, University police Chief Greg Hestness said . Hestness said heâÄôs optimistic that the four potential hires will accept and their 16-week training will start at the end of November. New hierarchy, new programs At the University, new hires wonâÄôt just be joining the force âÄî the new blood will allow for internal promotions to restructure the command staff-to-officer ratio, Hestness said. In 2006, the University of Minnesota had both the smallest command ratio âÄî percentage of supervising versus first line officers âÄî and the lowest officer-to-student ratio in the Big Ten. The internal promotions will increase UMPDâÄôs percentage of management and better allow the department to reach out to the community, Hestness said. Hestness said he will create a community response team, a crew of officers used more to âÄútroubleshoot than fight firesâÄù when the force reaches 50 sworn officers âÄî a short jump from the current 45. Groups of police management designated to respond to the community are common in the MPD, and are used by departments to connect with neighborhoods, said Carol Oosterhuis, 2nd Precinct crime prevention specialis t. Usually a lieutenant and crime prevention specialist will attend meetings to answer questions, explain police procedure and give safety advice, she said. Hestness said the University needs such a team to take the strain off the on-call officers. âÄúWhen we get a situation when there are some crime patterns developing, itâÄôs hard to commit people off the call âĦ to send them to an MSA meeting or a Marcy-Holmes meeting,âÄù he said. By the time UMPD is done hiring new officers and promoting current employees, there will be two more lieutenants and sergeants than there are now, something Hestness said will help the force handle the extra work arising from the stadium. Hestness speculated that 100 officers will be needed for campus game days, including traffic enforcement and K-9 units. Currently, 40 to 60 MPD officers attend Gophers games at the Metrodome , but Hestness said more officers will be needed on campus to handle the traffic, parking and tailgating.