Editor's Note: In this weekly column, I am going to write about what I've learned each week at the academy. Some of the topics that will be covered in this column and at the Citizen's Academy is identity theft, homicide investigation, self defense, and there will also be ridealongs with officers, a Taser demo and an opportunity to participate in a service weapons shoot. The Citizen's Academy is held every Thursday at the Eagan Police Department from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
This year’s Citizen’s Academy classes have come to an end. I must say, these past seven Thursdays have flown by, and I have even more of an appreciation for the Eagan Police Department now. From the intense hiring process to training to officers' regular days/nights out patrolling the streets of Eagan, they are always busy multitasking, always being tested. They truly never know what to expect in any given day, but try to always be prepared.
This past Thursday, everyone in the class was given a certificate of participation. The last event classmates will partake in is the voluntary opportunity to shoot guns at the Eagan Police Department’s gun range this Thursday, starting at 3 p.m.
After "graduation," the class was given a few different presentations, one of which was by one of the Eagan Police Department’s eight chaplains.
Chaplain Debbie Brown explained their relationship to the department and tasks they are assigned. Chaplains are available to help out families who receive unfortunate news about one of their family members. They also have a working relationship with schools in case there is a death of a classmate.
We are available for mutual aid, Brown said.
Chaplains are highly trained, ordained clergy with masters in theology. They are on-call and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Chaplains represent various denominations. Brown is an Episcopal priest, but she said she is not about evangelizing.
“We are there for a non anxious presence,” she said. “We would never leave a family alone until there is somebody else that is able to be with the family.”
Chaplains also have high visibility (they wear badges and nametags) and have high adaptability skills (they never know what situation they will come upon).
Eagan Police Department's Tactical Team
In addition, Eagan Police Officer Todd Kirchgatter, who has been with the department for 21 years, talked about the tactical (or SWAT) team and showed the class various items that the tactical team uses.
Kirchgatter’s primary duty is patrol. He is also part of the tactical team, which includes 12 of the department’s officers (two team leaders and two supervisors). The team trains once a month and once a year for a week at Camp Dodge or Camp Ripley.
The tactical team is always on-call, but they are only paid if they are called out. Burnsville and Eagan are the only departments in Dakota County that have their own tactical team. The remaining departments have specific officers that are part of the county’s Mutual Aid Assistance Group (MAAG).
According to Kirchgatter, the team has about 4-5 call-outs a year.
Eagan PD’s Mobile Command Center
The department has a custom-built command vehicle that cost $457,000 and began receiving some use in early 2006. There are many items found inside the command vehicle, including seven laptops, whiteboards, a SMARTboard, a GPS with aerial view, cell/satellite phones and a bathroom (among many other items).
The command vehicle is used a couple times a month. However, the fire department uses it more than the police department. The vehicle is parked at fire station five.
According to officer Matt Ondrey, who is part of the command vehicle team, the vehicle is usually parked 2-3 blocks away from the “scene” and the team tries to gather all the information they can about a situation inside the vehicle.