ST. CLOUD -- A relatively new program in the Stearns County Sheriff's Office has been developed to encourage more positive interaction with the community.

The Community Service Engagement Team is made up of about 40 members including dispatchers, jail staff, and patrol staff. The three school resource officers oversee the program including Deputy Brian Theisen. He says they've gotten a lot of good feedback from residents.

In the past, people have seen the Sheriff's Office when it's either a bad situation or the civil paperwork type stuff, or the jail.  That's what people associated the Sheriff's Office with.  Now we're starting to get more involved.

Theisen says the feedback from team members has also been very good.

It gives our dispatchers a chance to get out from behind the radio.  Jail staff to get out, all they see is the people that come in to jail, now they are out interacting with the community more.

Theisen says the Sheriff's Office already had programs like the Explorers and Mounted Reserves, but now they've added things like summer youth camps.

They have a Lights On program where they hand out fix-it tickets when you have a headlight out on your car instead of giving you a ticket.  They put sensory bags in several squad cars.  And, they are working on starting a TRIAD group dedicated to teaching the elderly about fraud and scams.

Theisen says the team attends events like parades, the county fair, the downtown art crawl and Summertime By George. He says coming up on June 7th they plan to hand out free donuts for National Donut Day.

Last summer they held their first youth safety camp at Warner Lake and this summer they want to expand it to three safety camps.

Get our free mobile app

8 Fast Food Chains That Should Come to St. Cloud