ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Six new recruits with the Rochester Police Department volunteered for local nonprofits Wednesday as a way to build connections with the communities they will serve.
The program is called Beyond the Badge and it was started in 2019. It's part of the department's eight week training for new recruits.
RPD Lt. Paul Grunholz leads the training and he said other departments across the country have similar community-service programs.
The recruits volunteered their time at The Salvation Army, MN Adult & Teen Challenge and the women's shelter.
"The goal is to make these introductions now while they are brand new officers, and continue that throughout their career," Grunholz said. "Yesterday, they met with all the organizations. Today is their volunteer day, and tomorrow, they will present to the entire police department their experience with Beyond the Badge, what they learned and how they tie that to police work."
At the Rochester Salvation Army, the new officers sorted coats and winter gear to get ready for the organization's coat distribution Thursday.
Lt. Gronholz said like many departments across the country, they are facing an officer shortage. Despite hiring the six new officers, the department still needs eight more.