Austin Police Department swears in new officers
Published 10:47 am Tuesday, January 5, 2016
The Austin Police Department welcomed its two newest police officers Monday morning.
Nathan Hoefs, 24, and Nathan Curtiss, 29, raised their right hands and repeated vows to the department in the City Council Chambers as Director of Administrative Services Tom Dankert swore them in.
The men accepted their badges from Police Chief Brian Krueger with family and friends there for support.
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“We are a family,” Krueger told them. “You’ve been hired to the Austin Police Department, the shift that you will be working on, they will expect you to uphold your end but we also are a team.”
Hoefs is already familiar with Austin, as he has worked at the Mower County Jail on the overnight shift for about four years. He went to school at Alexandria Technical College in Alexandria.
“These last four years working in Austin, I’ve really started to enjoy the town,” he said. “I like the people, the officers that I get to work with, and I enjoy that sense of comradeship that you get with these people day in and day out.”
“I have these guys, they have my back and I have their back, and I really enjoy that,” he added.
Hoefs has dealt with many different situations during his time working at the jail and said it has allowed him to learn to think on his toes. He also knows many of the officers already, as well as some community members, which he said should make it easier to adjust to the new job.
He hopes to make a difference in Austin and continue helping serve the community.
“Being able to get out there and interact with the community, and try and help the city and make it a better place, just a better place to live,” he said. “It’s a great city, it has it’s ups and has it’s downs, but I hope to just help continue to improve it.”
Curtiss went to Law Enforcement Academy in Hibbing from 2005 to 2007, but he initially opted to join the military in 2009 and went to Afghanistan. After an injury, he returned home and decided to try law enforcement again.
“It’s successful so far,” he said.
Despite the scrutiny police officers have gotten recently with incidents in Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri, and even Minneapolis, Curtiss said he sees this as one of the best times to get into law enforcement.
“We are scrutinized heavily right now, and I believe it can only get better,” he said. “You can only help and it can get better from here out.”
Curtiss hopes to use his people skills in his new position.
“I like people, I’m a people person,” he said. “ … I like to talk to people, I like to get to know people, and I think that’s the highest skill trait that I have, other than your basic necessities into the field.”
“Just a hard work ethic, good personality and a will to serve the people of Austin,” he added.
Krueger said the two new hires make for 34 sworn-in officers on the force, which puts the Austin department at average with surrounding communities such as Owatonna, Albert Lea, Winona and Faribault.
“Based on the sheer number of calls, the volume of calls that we’re getting, our officers just aren’t able to handle the volume,” he said. “Our detective staff, our investigators, have fallen behind the last two years.”
“When a larger case comes in, an assault or something like that, this way we have more people that we can put into that immediately so we can resolve it,” he added.
Krueger said the department has been proactive and busy since the day he started more than 30 years ago. He explained the department is also getting more involved in community policing activities, getting out in the public with programs such as Shop With A Hero and National Night Out, and other community events.
“We want to continue those things, or expand them, and this way we’ll have enough manpower on each shift that we should be able to do that while we’re working,” he said. “And this also should cut down on the overtime expense with hiring some extra officers.”
The new officers will go through an intense two-week, in-house training to learn policies and procedures of the Austin department, and will go through the Field Training Officer program, which will likely take up to three months. Krueger said the officers will be ready to go out on their own around April. He is excited for the new officers.