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KIMT NEWS 3 — More than 500 troopers make up the Minnesota State Patrol. That is a big difference from the 35 people that made up the first patrol force in 1929.
Now they are opening the door for those who do not have a history like theirs.
Mitch Elzen does not have your typical law enforcement background.
“Phy ed and health education, I double majored. I was a phy ed teacher for one year and then made the transfer into law enforcement,” Elzen said.
Although he did not go to school to be a state trooper, Elzen has considered them role models since he was a seven-year-old working at his grandpa’s auto repair shop.
“We always worked on the state patrol squad cars and that was years and years of working on squad cars, talking to the troopers in town. There’s a few troopers that lived in Medford. I always kind of looked up to them, I’d bounce questions off of them when I was working on their cars and just got really interested in what the state patrol does,” Elzen said.
Minnesota is one of the few states that requires a degree to be a police officer, but every once in a while they take that requirement off.
The agency is wrapping up on another hiring spree. They require applicants to have a college degree, but that degree does not have to be in law enforcement, it can be in anything.
“We often get teachers, engineers, a graphic designer I believe just graduated from our school. 11 out of the 42 were these atypical applicants,” said Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha of the Minnesota State Patrol.
There are benefits to hiring people with different backgrounds.
“This will help us maintain a balanced and diverse force, which makes it a healthy, productive and professional force,” Sticha said.
The state patrol wants to make sure they have the right people patrolling the roads, so there is a lot more to it then just applying and getting offered a job.
“There’s an interview, there’s a physical test, there’s a psychological test, a medical exam,” Elzen said.
Although it may not have been part of his original life plan, after two and a half years on the force he has no regrets.
“I’m really glad that I made that choice. You get your own car to take home, you get a lot of freedom, whatever you want to do, you want to do seat belts today, do you want to do speed? You get to pick what you want to do and you’re kind of your own boss, so I love it,” Elzen said.
The state patrol also holds a High School Summer Camp at Camp Ripley for 16 to 19-year-olds. Sticha says it is a great way for teens to find out if law enforcement is something they can see in their future.
For more information visit the state patrol’s website.