WAITE PARK -- Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud is hoping his newest hire will be a model for others interested in law enforcement.

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Quay Crawford became the departments first hire through the Pathways for Policing program.

Crawford served in the Army after high school and graduated from Century College in December with a degree in criminal justice. He says he's eager for this next opportunity.

I want to learn how to do policing the right way. I think we are at an interesting time in the police profession where I think I can bring some interesting ideas and concepts and learn from the experiences here.

The Pathways for Policing program hires someone who has a two-year degree in a non-police related field and pays them a salary to go to school for 17 weeks to learn how to become a police officer.

Waite Park was one of several departments Crawford applied for back in October. He was selected as one of three finalists, and eventually offered the position.

Crawford says he's spent this past week getting to know the department and will begin his schooling next week.

I love that this is my job. How often can you say you get paid to go to school to learn to be in the profession you already have a job for.

Bentrud says hiring police officers has been a struggle throughout the state in recent years, but views this program as a game changer.

When you first start talking about it you're kind of hesitant because it's a new idea and a little out of the box. However, I would submit that that's where we need to be today to help fill that pipeline up with good people and officers.

Bentrud says he plans to be apart of the Pathways for Policing program again next year, with hopes of one day creating a central Minnesota version of the program.

Crawford will wrap up his schooling over the summer and then begin his field training, with expectations of being on his own as a licensed police officer by the end of the year.


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