The Police Chief's monthly column.

Last month I explained the process to become a police officer in Minnesota. This month I will go through the process of keeping a police officer license active.

In Minnesota, our police officer licenses are good for three years. Every three years we need 48 class credits for our continuing education. There are some required courses by the state but most of the credits can be tailored to the officer’s duties, weaknesses and/or interests. For example, since I have become Chief I find myself dealing with more financial crimes then when I was a night patrol officer. This was an investigative weakness of mine. Last week I went to a two-day class about investigating financial crimes. I received 16 continuing education credits for this class.

We have some classes online, as well as in a traditional classroom. In Sleepy Eye when our officers’ three year licenses are up, they routinely have far more than the 48 credits required to have their license recertified.

We do have required classes in order to get our licenses recertified. Every year an officer must qualify with any firearm they carry or could use while on or off duty. The POST (Police Officer Standards and Training) board has minimum standards for all firearm qualifications. Sleepy Eye, like most Minnesota police departments, has a tougher standard than the state has.

Every five years an officer must pass an eight-hour emergency driving training. The Sleepy Eye Police Department does this training at the Highway Safety Center just outside of St. Cloud. This training has a large paved track and a slightly smaller dirt road track. This training consists of emergency driving and how to do so safely. The Sleepy Eye Police Department Officers are also PIT (pursuit intervention technique) trained at this facility.

The POST Board put in a new requirement this year. Every three years an officer must have 16 credits of Crisis Intervention and Mental Illness Training and/or Conflict Management and Mediation Training and/or Implicit Bias, Community Diversity and Cultural Differences Training. Sixteen credits must be earned in a combination of the above classes. I am told that some of these classes will be offered online, but the Sleepy Eye Police Department will have to seek out these new classes once they are offered through various training institutes.

I thought it would be good to touch on what it takes to become, and remain, a police officer. The POST board also conducts training audits of departments and has a license review panel for officers who violate criminal laws. Certain violations of the criminal code or violations of the minimum training standards can trigger a license review.