History of the Police Reserves
Made up entirely of volunteers and originally formed in 1941 as a civil defense group, the South St. Paul Police Reserves remains an active and vital arm of police protection in the city.
Among the original members of the group were Paul Oesterreich, Mike Chalupa, Carl Dahlberg, and Sylvester Lang. As coordinators of the city's protection during World War II, the group attracted many additional members in those years.
When the war came to an end, the unit was inactive for some time, but in the spring of 1958, Bill Meyer, then Commander of the Gallagher-Hansen Post 295 of the V.F.W., asked for volunteers to form a new active unit and today's reserve became a reality.
Auxiliary Police Force
By February 1962, the Auxiliary Police Force, as they were then known, had grown to 38 members with W.D Pletsch as their chief. Twelve years later the city purchased new uniforms for the group and the organization took on its current name, the South St. Paul Police Reserve.
Besides W.D. Pletsch, the following have served as chief of reserve unit through the years:
- Tom Cosgrove
- Bud Dittle
- Tim Froelich
- Bob Houman
- Keith Jacobson
- Gary Kaldun
- Sylvester Lang
- George Schember
- Todd Waters (current police officer)
- Kim Woog
- J.J. Francis
- James Woodburn
- Randy Graff
- Lindsey Brotzler (current chief of the unit)
Responsibilities of the Reserves
One of the reserve's primary responsibilities is to provide assistance in emergencies such as traffic control during fires or relief during floods. Members are also on patrol at various times throughout the week, watching for criminal or suspicious activity and providing park patrol.
Additional service is provided during the Kaposia Days celebration, the "On The Road Again" Fall festival, the Memorial Day Parade, as well as many other community events and activities.
By 2004 the unit had seventeen members and provided over 4,000 volunteer man-hours to the community. Each volunteer goes through a Field Training Program, Use of Force training, and is trained in basic first aid.
Several former members of the reserve have gone on to become active members of the regular South St. Paul Police Department, including retired Captain David Vujovich (now deceased), retired Sergeant Jim Neilsen (now deceased), retired Officer Joe Dement, retired Chief Michael Messerich and retired Chief Daniel Vujovich.
Former South St. Paul Police Reserves presently serving with the South St. Paul Police Department include Chief of Police William Messerich, Commander Brian Wicke, Sergeant Michael Running, Sergeant Richard Schwab, Officer Todd Waters, Officer Randy Boyden, Officer Mellissa Cavalier, Officer L. Jake Smith, Officer Matt Case, Officer Jon Weight, Officer Simo Peinovich, Officer Charles Gelhaye, Officer Jessica Fuchs, Officer Emily Danner and Officer Melissa Gruenewald.
The South St. Paul Police Reserve also includes among its alumni retired Inver Grove Heights police chief, Chuck Kleckner, along with many other law enforcement officers proudly serving in many other agencies including:
- Apple Valley
- Brooklyn Center
- Inver Grove Heights
- Minnesota Department of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement
- Minnesota State Patrol
- Hennepin County Sheriff
- North St. Paul
- Ramsey County Sheriff
- St. Paul
- West St. Paul
Purpose of the Reserves
The purpose of the South St. Paul Police Reserve Unit is to assist the South St. Paul Police Department in any disaster, to assist at parades and public gatherings, and to assist in any situation where extra personnel are needed as determined by the South St. Paul Police Department.
Members of the Reserve Unit will generally perform their duties on a volunteer basis without compensation, but may be paid for some special events of assignments when approved by the Chief of Police.
Functions & Requirements
An important function of the Reserve Unit is to assist the patrol division of the Police Department in the delivery of non-hazardous services. In doing so, a Reserve Officer may be asked to:
- Assist in crime scene protection
- Assist in the search for lost persons or evidence
- Direct traffic at accident or fire scenes
- Provide other services as assigned
- Provide routine limited squad patrol to include parks, schools, playgrounds, Fleming Field Airport, and any area assigned
- Provide staffing or security for community or school events or routine assignments
- Applicants must be at least 19 years of age, possess a high school diploma or equivalent, and possess a valid Minnesota driver's license (Class D or higher) with a good driving record. Applicants must be able to perform the duties of the position without restriction.
- Prior first aid and/or law enforcement training is desirable but not required. Training will be provided by the South St. Paul Reserve Unit.
- Reserve Officers are required to put in an average of eight hours per month and attend the monthly meetings. Meetings are held the first Sunday of each month starting at 7 p.m. and lasting approximately one hour.
- Reserve Officers are provided with a uniform including jacket, hat, badge, and hand-held radio. All issued uniform and equipment items remain the property of the South St. Paul Police Reserve Unit and are to be immediately returned upon the request or separation from the unit.