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Police offer residents a peek behind the curtain

Christine Orthman writes criminal justice text books. So when the chance came to get to know a little more about her local police department she decided it would be good to get a little insight into police work.

In October of 2006 Orthman participated in the Rosemount's Citizens Police Academy. She said the opportunity also let her get to know the officers who protect the city she lives in.

"It was nice to put faces to the names," said Orthman.

Orthman enjoyed the opportunity so much that she decided to get more involved. Since taking the class Orthman has joined the police reserves. Reserves help full-time police officers with duties such as traffic and crowd control.

"The timing worked out right and it's been a good volunteer opportunity," said Orthman.

The police department is gearing up to hold another academy for residents this fall. The seven week class provides an overview of what the police department does and gives residents hands on experience in the field.

Police officer Beth Richtsmeier said the academy will cover a variety of topics including an overview of department operations, tour of the police facility, a review of typical police calls, D.W.I. demonstration, narcotics presentation, investigations, M.A.A.G. (SWAT) and firearms, use of force, self-defense, D.A.R.E., school-liaison duties, domestics, arrests, search and seizure issues, traffic stops, officer safety, community policing/crime prevention, the new Dakota County Communications Center, animal control and the chaplain program. After completing the course participants can do a ride along with an officer during his or her shift.

While some of the course will be lecture, Richtsmeier said the class will include plenty of hands on learning as well.

The hands on experience is what Eric Schulz remembers well. He also took the class in 2006. During the class he had to help find a perpetrator in a darkened office space in a staged scenario.

"It was freaky," said Schulz of walking through the dark looking for someone. While he knew he wasn't going to get hurt, Schulz said police don't have that same benefit.

"It's a tough job," said Schulz.

As the owner of AAA Auto Salvage, Schulz felt taking the class would be a good way to build relationships with the department. With a couple cops in his family, Schulz said he also got some insight into what they do.

"It was fun and a good relationship building opportunity," said Schulz.

Police chief Gary Kalstabakken said the class is a good way for residents to satisfy their curiosity. But he said it also serves as a good opportunity for police officers to get to know residents outside their official duties.

The department has held several academies. It has tried to hold several more but due to lack of interest the classes have been canceled. Kalstabakken said he hopes residents will sign up for this session. So far 10 people have expressed interest in taking the class.

The academy will meet from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays starting Oct. 5 and ending Nov. 16. Classes will meet at City Hall or the Rosemount Community Center.

Applications will be accepted through August 28, with space limited to 25 people. Applications are available at the Rosemount Police Department, located downstairs at city hall, 2875 145 W. St. All participants will be subject to a criminal background check.

For further information call officer Beth Richtsmeier at 651-423-4491 or e-mail her at