New grants to address critical shortage of law enforcement officers

​June 6, 2024

​​​​​​​Police officers jump rope with kidsOfficers from the St. Louis Park Police Department join local kids at a community event. The department is one of 35 agencies that received the Intensive Comprehensive Peace Officer Education and Training grant from our Office of Justice Programs.

As staffing shortages at law enforcement agencies across Minnesota are reaching critical levels, more and more agencies are looking to non-traditional job candidates — for example, those who have a career in another field and are looking to switch — to serve their communities.

“Minnesotans deserve to feel safe no matter where they live," DPS Commissioner Bob Jacobson said. “Our goal is to provide this for them, but staffing challenges make this increasingly difficult."

A new grant program administered by our Office of Justice Programs (OJP) aims to help agencies fill their ranks with qualified candidates who are ready to step up for their neighbors. The Intensive Comprehensive Peace Officer Education and Training (ICPOET) grant program, which was created by the Minnesota Legislature, will support law enforcement agencies who have a plan to recruit, educate, hire and train qualified two and four-year college graduates to become licensed peace officers.

Thirty-five agencies received the inaugural round of funding, $2.5 million, which will sponsor 50 candidates to attend the training starting in October. The program will offer $50,000 for each eligible candidate within a law enforcement agency, paying for the candidates' training and allowing them to earn a salary while in school. Not only will this program assist a growing challenge within law enforcement agencies, but it will also benefit recent graduates from two-and-four-year colleges or individuals who are looking for a new career path.

“The incentives of this training program are plentiful," grant administrator Mary Vukelich said. “But this isn't a free ride. Students will have to fully commit to this intensive and comprehensive curriculum that will give them the skills to become a licensed officer."

Students will take 22 weeks of training at either Alexandria Technical Community College or Hennepin Technical College.

ICPOET isn't intended to replace existing programs, such as Pathway to Policing. While they were created for the same purpose — to help recruit peace officers — the programs use different strategies to support Minnesota agencies. Pathway to Policing is designed for the more traditional student with nontraditional demographics in law enforcement. ICPOET is unique as it is designed for those interested in transitioning careers by providing the required education and a salary while in school.

Among the 35 agencies receiving the first round of funding is the Belle Plaine Police Department.

“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved," said Belle Plaine Police Chief Terry Stier. “Candidates will live out their dream of becoming a peace officer. Agencies are solving ongoing staffing challenges, and as a result, communities across Minnesota will be safer."

OJP will offer another $2.25 million in funding for agencies interested in participating in the second cohort. The request for proposal period will open on June 11 and close on July 31. People interested in a career in law enforcement or agencies looking to apply for the funding can find more information on our website.​