Mitchell revives police reserve programFive volunteer officers sworn in Monday
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
The thin blue line protecting Mitchell grew a little stronger Monday when the city’s first group of volunteer police officers in nearly two decades was sworn in.
After about four months of twice-weekly training sessions, five reserve police officers were administered their oaths by Municipal Judge Patrick Kiner during a brief graduation ceremony in front of family and friends in the training room at the Mitchell Public Safety building.
They are the first unpaid volunteer police officers to serve with the Mitchell Police Division since the early 1990s.
“This is the first time in a long time,” said Mitchell Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg. “We’re grateful for you stepping up.”
The five new officers are Keith Luke, of Mitchell, Byron Tollefson, of Mount Vernon, Josh Peterson, of Mitchell, Harvey Doerr, of Mitchell, and Stan Nielsen, of Mitchell.
All have full-time careers outside their new duties.
Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy also attended the ceremony. He thanked each of the new officers for their dedication and commitment, saying they will be “greatly appreciated” by the city.
Each of the reserve officers will be fully certified with the state and have all the powers of their paid, full-time colleagues.
“It was really just a chance to give back to the community,” said Peterson in an interview after the ceremony, while his fellow reserve officers all nodded in agreement. “It’s just getting out on the street and helping people when they need help.”
The reserve officers have been training with Mitchell Police Staff Sgt. Ryan Erickson every Monday and Tuesday night since April. They were trained in everything they could encounter as a police officer, from traffic stops to selfdefense.
“It’s been a long haul, but it’s been rewarding,” Erickson said.
The new officers agreed it was a relief to complete the training.
“I have no idea what’s on Monday and Tuesday night TV anymore,” Doerr said, drawing a laugh from the group.
Though none was surprised by the intensity of the training, Luke said the sheer amount of knowledge to acquire was daunting.
“Training was fun, but I’m glad it’s over,” he said.
All are excited to finally put what they’ve learned to use in the city.
Reserve officers are required by the state to work a minimum of 96 hours per year, or about eight hours each month, and can work no more than 40 hours per month. Each will work with a full-time Mitchell police officer whenever they’re on duty.
With the crowds and festivities of the Corn Palace Festival quickly approaching, Erickson said, the assistance from the new reserve officers will be much appreciated by the rest of the department.
Erickson and Overweg have been working since last fall to make Mitchell’s reserve police officer program a reality again. Both hope to see the program expand in the future.
“We want to make this grow,” Overweg said. “This is a good core group to get started with, but our goal is to make this more than a one- or two-year thing.”
Because these new officers are unpaid, Overweg said, it’s obvious they’re doing it for the right reasons.
“They’re truly doing it because they care for the community,” he said.