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Policing in Rochester, finding a balance

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — It’s no secret, police incidents across the United States caught on camera have resulted in unrest. Police are under a microscope like never before.

“A lot of what we do as police officers is social services type response,” Rochester Police Department Lt. Jennifer Hodgman said. “It’s domestic violence. It’s dealing with people in a mental health crisis. A lot of those people in those situations are not excited to see us. Just from the very moment we arrive on scene, we are met with people who are unhappy we are there.”

Many agree, it’s not an easy job.

“I cannot personally think of another profession in America right now that is as complex, fluid and dynamic as law enforcement. We are asking young officers, ‘go out there and interact with human beings,’ at a time of crisis,” Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin said.

In this age of technology, officers’ actions are more available to the general public.

“We understand cell phones are everywhere,” Franklin said.

“This last year, the last couple years really, have been unprecedented, and there is a lot of division,” police trainee Garrison Lenz said.

“I think you will find that there’s some reservation now for people to say, ‘what do you do for a living?’ ‘Oh, I’m a police officer,’” Lt. Hodgman said.

Many though, still have a desire to serve.

“Almost all of us got into this profession with the desire to help,” Hodgman said.

Garrison Lenz is a law school graduate, a father and an officer in training. He says he felt it was something he had to do.

“It was about year two of law school, I really felt called to go into policing,” he said.

The eight-week training covers a lot, including breaking down videos seen around the world showing police shootings.

“We train them well. We provide them with the best equipment, and we hold them accountable when they aren’t living up to those standards that we have,” Lt. Hodgman said.

“We train our officers to continually assess what they have in front of them. We are always being mindful of de-escalation as our number one goal, officer safety, the sanctity of life are our priorities,” Franklin said.

Though getting new recruits has been challenging, Franklin says diversity has been a goal.

“Of the eight new recruits we just brought in, five are women and people of color. That’s been a priority of this organization. So much so, we wrote it into our vision statement,” Franklin said.

If you would like to learn more about what it takes to become a Rochester police officer, click here for more information.

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Kamie Roesler

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