More soldiers are on the way and other agencies continue to face recruitment hurdles

It was graduation day for more than 30 new soldiers who would soon be on patrol and help fill a growing law enforcement need in Minnesota.

“It’s exciting to see these new troopers out there,” said Lt. Jill Frankfurth of the Minnesota State Patrol, adding that this graduating class of 35 troopers will help keep their current workforce stable.

“We have room to add soldiers to our ranks. But right now we remain stable, she continued.

But many other agencies are not in that boat. Some industry leaders even say it’s dire.

“We are in a crisis right now,” said Jim Mortenson, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services.

“We are short about a thousand police officers in the state of Minnesota,” he added.

Mortenson is well aware of the current recruitment hurdles and says one of the biggest challenges is the small pool of people applying.

He added that the number of agencies hiring makes it much more difficult – especially for those competing against larger departments with higher wages and better benefits.

“There are 408 law enforcement agencies in the state of Minnesota, and 208 of them are trying to recruit,” Mortenson said.

And to go even further, he says most of these agencies are also working hard to retain their staff as many retirements are expected soon.

“It concerns me greatly,” Mortenson said of the approximately 2,500 law enforcement officers who could retire.

When asked if there are many officers in the St. Paul Police Department who are nearing retirement, Public Information Officer Alyssa Arcand said there are “quite a few.”

She also said the department has lost more than 50 officers.

“We are recruiting heavily,” Acrand said, adding, “We have a full-time recruiting sergeant.”

One unique way they’re doing that is by becoming the first department in the state to partner with the Minnesota National Guard, giving veterans the opportunity to join the force in the nation’s capital.

At the Capitol, Mortenson says legislation is in the works, which they’re calling the “reemployment bill” — if passed, it would allow law enforcement officers to retire with full pensions at age 55, and then back to return to their desk to also receive benefits. salary.

“We have to come up with some out-of-the-box ideas,” Mortenson said. “We have to get this done.”