About the St. Peter Police Department
The Saint Peter Police Department is organized into four major areas of responsibility: patrol, criminal investigation, communications, community service.
The department is administered, coordinated and directed by the Chief of Police and supervisory staff. The supervisory staff is made up the Office Services Coordinator and the Patrol Sergeant.
Patrol is the backbone of all policing. A Sergeant who directs the work of nine patrol officers supervises patrol. Patrol Officers are responsible for all aspects of policing. They perform a wide range of general law enforcement duties. Patrol Officers are responsible for the maintenance of order, the enforcement of law and ordinances, the protection of life and property, and the prevention, detection, and investigation of criminal acts within the city. They provide for the enforcement of court orders and court directives and assure the preservation of the constitutional and civil rights of all individuals.
The Office Services Coordinator supervises communications staff, payroll, billing and many other support services. Communications is comprised of four full-time and five part-time Communications Technicians. Communications Technicians duties include: receiving emergency and non-emergency telephone and radio calls, dispatching emergency service providers, receptionist, clerical functions, monitoring of fire and burglar alarms, transcription of statements, receptionist for all after hour city calls, state and local data entry, providing information requested from the public, tourist information, as well as other support services.
The detectives are responsible for all law enforcement investigative activities. All major criminal investigations are carried out here in addition, assistance is provided to patrol officers in the investigation of misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor investigations. Detectives coordinate all investigations, crime scenes, and the prosecution of felony level crimes, child protection investigations, and vulnerable adult investigations.
Police Officers of the Saint Peter Police Department are highly trained professionals, skilled in all facets of policing. Their training, dedication to duty and professionalism provide each and every officer with the characteristics necessary to persevere and overcome the daunting task of dealing with dynamic public safety needs.
Patrol Officers provide numerous public safety functions:
- Respond to all emergency calls
- Traffic regulation
- Accident investigation
- Community service calls and complaints
- Interact with victims of crime
- Criminal law enforcement
- Criminal case investigation and follow-up
- Crime prevention
These are only some of the situations police officers respond to on a daily basis. Certainly the work of a police officer is varied and dynamic. Police often respond to potentially dangerous and complex situations. Threats of potential violence, crimes against persons, and the overall complex nature of serious crime in society today, require that officers be well trained, articulate and knowledgeable in all facets of policing.
As society becomes ever more complex so to are the legal issues faced by police when dealing with often technical and complex situations, criminals and crime. It is a challenge for police officers to maintain the skills necessary for the prevention of crime as well as the apprehension of criminals in a mobile, technological laden society. Education and training are necessary to provide the best service possible, the best possible outcome of any given situation, and the prevention of action or inaction, which could result in liability.
This department is in a constant state of evaluation and reevaluation. Actions of officers must not only stand-up to legal challenge but must also meet the standards set forth in departmental policy. We must always be forthright and willing to undergo the scrutiny of the public, the media and various other organizations. We will be successful in policing only by holding ourselves to the highest of expectations and standards set forth. We always review, scrutinize, and critique our own work.
Communications Technicians have extremely varied functions. Most significantly communications technicians are often the first to interact with the public. Over the course of a year Communications Technicians have received about 9,500 people at the department. In addition they have handled over 60,000 radio and telephone calls.
Most calls received are customer service related. Communications Technicians must have the ability and knowledge to interact with a wide range of people. Certainly they must be adept at handling emergency situations often requiring quick and decisive action. In 2006 Technicians received nearly 800 emergency 911 calls.
Communications Technicians are also required to perform many other duties:
- Documentation of all personal contact, and calls received
- Processing reports and records
- State, local and national computer data entry
- Transcription of interviews
- Burglar and fire alarm monitoring
- Fire Department dispatching
- Bicycle inspection and registration
- Initiation of crime alerts
- Support various police agencies
- Support patrol and investigation, etc.
As society becomes more complex, technical, and mobile so to are the nature of criminal investigations. The ever-increasing intricacy of criminal investigations calls for specialization. Scientific advances and the use of technology have proven to be great resources in the apprehension and conviction of criminals. Investigators must have the knowledge, skill and ability of these resources in order to successfully initiate and conduct criminal investigations.
Criminal investigations are often resource intensive. Major complex cases are often labor intensive. Because of the complexity of criminal investigations it is necessary for a detective to supervise and monitor all criminal cases.
An detective responds to all major crime scenes, and will manage all major felony crimes as well as all crimes against persons.
The number of serious crime reported to the Saint Peter Police Department was up slightly in 2006. Although the number of child protection and criminal sexual conduct investigations diminished, assault cases and disorderly conduct type cases increased. The number of drug cases remained steady.
Criminal investigation is fundamental to the success of policing. It would not be possible to pursue, apprehend, and successfully prosecute criminals without this task. It is the essential mission of the Saint Peter Police Department to prevent crime, protect victims and witnesses, and apprehend criminals; this could not be successful without a viable investigative branch.
Community Service Officer
The Community Service Officer fulfills a support role within the department. This is a dynamic and functional duty. Responsibilities include:
- Animal control
- Code enforcement
- Community service activities
- Support services
- Public education
- Bicycle education and enforcement
- Supervision of “Sentence to Serve” projects
- The Community Service Officer (CSO) spends much time on animal control problems. This entails working with residents in an effort to license animals. It also involves assisting residents in the trapping of wild animals. Thanks to the CSO most impounded animals are returned to their owners or successfully adopted by a new owner.
Another major role of the CSO is code enforcement. This includes identifying nuisances and responding to nuisance complaints. Examples of common nuisance complaints are; unregistered or inoperable vehicles, discarded furniture and appliances, unused building materials, brush and weeds. It’s necessary to identify violators and work with property owners in an effort to abate the nuisance.
The CSO also conducts residential “vacation” surveys, surplus property auction, organizing department projects , and delivery of various department correspondences.
Community-oriented Youth Activities
Police as well as Reserve Police Officers conduct many organized youth activities. Our Service is extremely interested in strengthening the relationship between young people and officers. We hope to enhance well being and safety of young people of the community in anyway possible.
Police Officers also conduct a Snowmobile Safety Training Course. This course involves classroom and practical skill application. Safety is stressed. At the successful completion of the class students receive a Snowmobile Safety Certificate.
Throughout the course of the year the Canine Officer and K-9 visits various classrooms to speak about safety, and demonstrate the skills of the police dog. One of the most rewarding visits is to Kindergarten students. Each Kindergarten student is photographed with the police dog and during the month of the students’ birthday a birthday card is mailed to the student containing the photograph.
Various other projects are conducted each year: Halloween safety lectures, moped training, judging of the Pinewood Derby, Boy Scout and Cub Scout presentations.
Saint Peter Police Reserve Unit
The Police Reserves are an integral part of Police Department operations. This all-volunteer group provides thousands of hours of service to the community each year. These volunteers provide much utility to the police department. Their duties often entail:
- Assist patrol activities
- Emergency Management Response and Support, e.g. floods, etc.
- Assist and support during missing persons searches
- Secure and guard crime scenes
- Organize community events and special activities
- The Saint Peter Police Reserve Unit has evolved over time into a true community service unit. The Unit has an authorized strength of 24 volunteer members. Each member of the unit is trained in various areas of police response. They all undergo various application and screening processes to become members of the organization.
The Reserve Unit is self-supporting. Without the service of the unit it would be extremely difficult for the department to maintain order and provide for the safety of the community during large-scale community events such as the Independence Day Celebration. The Unit provides in excess of 3000 hours during the course of a year. Without this effort the cost for such large-scale events would be substantial.
Tornado of 1998
The March 29, 1998 tornado devastated the City of Saint Peter. Saint Peter Police Personnel immediately began an extensive search and rescue mission. A command post was quickly established in the Emergency Operations Center. From the EOC a coordinated police, fire, and EMS search and rescue was then conducted. eavy Equipment was required to remove fallen debris to allow rescue teams access to homes and buildings. The city was thrown into darkness by the loss of electricity. Auxiliary lighting was often necessary for a house-to-house search. Search and rescue personnel made two complete sweeps of the city before finally terminating their efforts.
All police personnel were split into two 12-hour shifts each shift supervised by a Sergeant. Hundreds of police officers from the region responded to assist and support the Saint Peter Police Department. Mounted horse patrols as well as canine patrols provided perimeter security as the city was sealed and traffic rerouted. Aggressive patrols were initiated in an effort to prevent looting and loss of property.
Soon the Minnesota National Guard arrived to assist in traffic control and security. Assistance quickly began to flow in from various state, federal and local agencies all committed to emergency management and disaster recovery. The American Red Cross as well as the Salvation Army were instrumental in tending to the needs of community members and recovery personnel.
Through the coordinated efforts of many agencies and groups, debris was removed, power was restored, and access to the city was opened to the public. On April 8th the police department returned to normal scheduling without the assistance of outside law enforcement agencies. Although, it would be much later in the year before normal operations returned to the department.