Gov. Walz allocates funding for public safety, gun violence prevention
LE SUEUR, Minn. (KEYC) — Gov. Tim Walz’s office has announced the use of federal funding for public safety and gun violence protection.
The plan includes $4 million for the Minnesota State Patrol and the Department of Natural Resources and nearly $5 million for the Department of Corrections for staffing shortages.
“The level of competition for that position just isn’t there anymore like it used to be even two or three years ago,” Le Sueur Police Chief Aaron Thieke said.
Locally, the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office is down multiple people at the jail.
“Really, it is important for us to get the opportunities to utilize some of that money when it comes through. We can do different creative things for getting people interested in the profession and keeping the people that we do have,” Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Barta said.
Just a few miles up the road, the Le Sueur Police Department says its staffing shortage doesn’t compare to other departments, but they need part-time officers who then have a chance to move on to a full-time role at the station.
Despite this opportunity, recent years have brought on fewer and fewer applicants for the role.
“I have had conversations like this with other chiefs and sheriffs, and they are experiencing another issue. I think there is a variety of reasons that there are not as many applicants out there today,” Thieke said.
Thieke says that in his conversations with local colleges and universities their enrollment numbers are down for law enforcement programs.
Departments have ramped up recruitment efforts, with competitive pay and raises for people who’ve been employed for at least two years. The hope is that this federal funding will make a difference.
“Just this afternoon I had an opportunity to meet with a couple of candidates that applied for our last deputy process and did advance through. We had conversations about career aspirations, goals and things that they wanted to accomplish,” Barta added.
The remaining funds from the $500 million for Minnesota’s American Rescue Plan will go toward supporting child care, mental health, food support, education and emergency shelters.
Copyright 2022 KEYC. All rights reserved.