News from the chief

Matt Andres, Chief of Police
Sleepy Eye Police Department
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

These past few weeks I have struggled with how to change the situation happing in our country right now. How can this situation get better? I can’t speak on the community side where change is also needed, but I have some insight into the police side.

People have strong opinions and feeling towards the police these days. As I have said in the past, the Sleepy Eye Police Department has strong support from this community. My belief is we have this because we treat people with respect, we do our jobs well and we are part of this community.

I have not policed in a large city, so I don’t know how much bad police work happens. I understand why it happens, but I don’t know at what point it becomes the department’s identity. This is not a surprise to many, but there are bad police officers out there.

As for how they become bad police officers — a few are just people that have hate and aggression in them and they should never have been police officers. My feeling is that the majority of bad officers are taught. Bad field training officers beget some bad officers. Now I can’t believe that most police officers are bad, oh I hope that is not the case. My guess is that there are those who are taught aggression, hate and dominance and gravitate towards that style. That style is quicker and easier. Many resist that style and just get through training to become their own officer.

As a young trainee police officer it is tough to stand against older more established officers. I have direct knowledge of this situation.

When I started I had a senior police officer who I did not agree with on different things. I felt trapped and stressed. I was miserable for the first year I worked here and contemplated quitting Law Enforcement all together. After I had some time in I could start to stand on my own and against the actions I didn’t agree with. Things did change for the better and I learned valuable lessons that I still carry to this day.

That officer does not live in Sleepy Eye anymore, but I can still vividly remember stressful situations with him. I am not the only young officer who had to deal with the stress of that older officer. My partners also went through their own ordeals in their own ways. I hope we all came out stronger. I can remember a conversation another young officer and I had where we verbalized that when we were the senior officers we would teach young officers differently than that older officer taught us. As compared to Minneapolis and other large departments this seems like such a small change. But I believe that change is change and it needs to start somewhere.

Anyone that watched George Floyd’s death and was not outraged, I do not understand. Any police officer who was fine with former Officer Chauvin’s actions should turn in their badge. Change is happening; officers need to realize that they police with the public’s trust and approval. That needs to be rebuilt in many areas. It starts with good honest officers standing up to hate, bias, aggression, and bad police officers.