Keeping Students Safe

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Student and police office on a ride-along
Erin Lehman joins UMDPD and Officer Mike Brostrom on a Ride-Along.

Police Ride-Along: Hop In and Buckle Up

Along with police departments across the United States, the University of Minnesota Duluth Police Department (UMDPD) encourages students and faculty to spend several hours with a police officer in their Ride-Along program. It is a way to understand the challenges, risks, and rewards of the police officer’s role.

 “I have done a few Ride-Alongs and have helped set students up for several Ride-Alongs as well,” said Mia Johnson, the Better Neighbors director for the Student Association at UMD. “The whole experience was eye opening and I would highly suggest students sign up. ”

Johnson, a junior graphic design student, is responsible for improving the relationships students have with their neighbors. She also is the student liaison for UMDPD.

“UMD police officers are here to help us,” said Johnson.“ I want to make sure students have a good relationship with the officers on campus and feel comfortable approaching them for anything.”

UMDPD is responsible for the safety and security of the UMD campus, the surrounding area, and of all property owned by UMD. The purpose of the Ride-Along program is to allow students and faculty to get a sense of the unpredictable nature of police work and to enhance the relationship between the police and the community.

UMDPD Officer Mike Brostrom, one of the officers who takes students on Ride-Alongs, believes that a perceptive officer keeps the campus safe. UMDPD officers conduct proactive exercises. An exercise is called a Self-Initiated Field Activity (SIFA, pronounced SEE-fah).  

“SIFAs allows us to be more efficient,” he said. By being alert and observant, officers are aware of issues before they turn into problems.

Brostrom says that one SIFA is simply getting out of the car, walking around, and taking notice of the surroundings. They watch and listen inside and outside of buildings on campus.  

Speeding cars can cause accidents, injuries and fatalities. “We conduct SIFAs to ensure vehicles follow traffic laws at intersections and crosswalks,” said Brostrom. On a recent Ride-Along, Brostrom did just that, and pulled over a speeding car after it flew through a stop sign.

Brostrom grew up in the Duluth area. He always had a strong interest in law enforcement and was inspired by family and friends to pursue it as a career. “When I was 13 years old I went on my first Ride-Along,” said Brostrom. “I knew then that I was meant to be a police officer.” 

Being proactive means be prepared for the worst case scenario. Brostrom and fellow UMDPD officers Chris Shovein and Jake Willis recently completed a week-long “Active Shooter Threat Instructor Training Program.” The program teaches the most up-to-date tactics in law enforcement response to active shooter incidents. The officers are now qualified to teach those tactics to other law enforcement professionals.

UMDPD often speak on a variety of topics to UMD students in classes or to groups. Brostrom often speaks in introductory college courses about the affects of drugs and alcohol. He is working with other officers on a pilot project to give presentations on bullying.    

"The Student Association is the official voice of the student body, and the group works to advocate for students, enrich student life, and improve UMD. In 2012, the Student Association met with UMDPD Chief Scott Drewlo to form the new police/SA liaison position, and the partnership was fully supported by Dr. Lisa Erwin, Vice Chancellor for Student Life and Dean of Students." 

Through the partnership with SA, education, and the Ride-Alongs, Brostrom and the UMDPD strive to keep UMD and the community a safer place. 

Story by Erin Lehman. November, 2013.

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