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The public face of police

Part of Beth Richtsmeier's job as the Rosemount Police Department's community resource officer is teaching DARE classes at elementary schools in the city.

Beth Richtsmeier wears a lot hats for the Rosemount Police Department. As the community resource officer, the 10-year veteran has become the face of the department.

Under the umbrella of her position fall a number of responsibilities, which keep her busy. For two hours each day she serves as the Rosemount Middle School resource officer. Richtsmeier said in the middle school she builds relationships with the kids and acts as a visible deterrent. School staff use her as a sounding board for how to resolve issues and she deals with issues such as thefts.

In the elementary schools, she teaches DARE to fifth graders. The class teaches kids about the dangers of drug use and offers healthy alternatives. Additionally she said they touch on other topics that students bring up.

Richtsmeier said she tries to get some of the other police officers involved as well so the kids get to know more than just her.

"I think it makes police more approachable," said Richtsmeier.

Although Leprechaun Days is months away, she wants to have an awesome parade float this year so Richtsmeier is trying to get the DARE kids pumped up for it now.

On Thursday mornings she holds Coffee with a Cop, an informal session in which she responds to questions and concerns raised by residents. She holds the weekly meetings at a different coffee shop each week.

While not a lot of people attend, Richtsmeier said residents do come in with their concerns. She said people bring in all sorts of concerns, often about neighbor or civil issues. The discussions give them an opportunity to ask their questions.

"They felt more comfortable coming to me at the coffee shop and that's the important part," said Richtsmeier.

This year she led the department's Citizen's Police Academy. The seven-week course proved so popular the department has decided to hold another one that will start in April.

"It's the first time we've done two in one year," said Richtsmeier.

During the summer she will coordinate Night to Unite parties and she provides guidance for Neighborhood Watch groups in the city.

In addition she carried over duties from her last position. She serves as the liaison to the department's chaplains. As one of the department's car seat technicians she helps families safely install child restraints a couple of times a month. She is one of the department's evidence technicians. And on top of it all she tracks sex offenders and rental housing complaints in the community.

"It seems like a lot and it is, but I manage my time well," said Richtsmeier.

Having done a number of other jobs with the department including patrol and investigations, Richtsmeier said she's enjoying doing some of what some might consider the fluffier parts of police work.

"I like that when I go somewhere I am generally making people happy whereas, say on patrol, that was hardly ever the case," said Richtsmeier.

However, don't think the new position has made her go soft. She still responds to calls and can be tough when the need arises.

Richtsmeier took over the community resource position from Chad Rosa in September. Police officers serve in the position for four-year rotations. Rosa now serves as the Rosemount High School resource officer.

Along with all the other stuff she does, Richtsmeier has some goals. A few weeks ago she held a meet and greet at the library to talk with teens about books. No teens showed up but she did get a group of younger kids that seemed interested in knowing what she read. So she decided to start a kids reading group.

She also wants to improve the department's relationship with the rental property owners in town. She held a meeting with all the rental property owners a few weeks ago and hopes to do more to create a better working relationship with them.

Although she anticipates the next three years will be busy, Richtsmeier said she's enjoying the position and excited to see what she can do with it.

"I love that there is so much going on and I think this is a good fit for me," said Richtsmeier.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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