Intern gains insight with Fairmont police

Parker Stevens

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Police Department’s internship program has been up and running for several years, affording young people interested in law enforcement with an opportunity to gain valuable first-hand experience.

This year, the program touts a new feature in the form of gaining college credits. Officer Jaime Bleess, along with other officers and personnel, is working with a young man by the name of Parker Stevens who has some family history with the department.

“My grandfather was actually a captain here,” Stevens said. “He retired in 1988 and he got me interested in law enforcement just by me listening to him and talking with him.”

As for the program itself, Bleess offers some insight into how it works.

“Chief Hunter started the program when he was a sergeant here,” Bleess said. “When he was preparing to switch over to the chief’s position, he asked me to take over the program.”

Stevens is currently seeking a two-year degree at Minnesota West. He said he appreciates the intern program for the amount of exposure he gets to different aspects of the various jobs.

“I get a wide variety of things, so I’m not just riding around in the patrol car,” he shared. “I work with dispatch, jail, the CER program, the county and city attorneys, bike patrol and will get into administration and detective aspects more toward August along with helping out at the fair. I also work for the Sheriff’s Office for the boat and water program.

“I like how I know a lot of the people in the area. Just interacting with them is great.”

As for the future, Stevens would like to graduate and get hired in Martin County if at all possible. Eventually he would like to finish up with a four-year degree.

“I’m turning the internship into credits, which is another great thing about the program. It’s really easy because they have all these objectives laid out, so they transition into credits at Minnesota West really easy, and then they’ll transfer to [Minnesota State-Mankato] or wherever I end up.”

“This is the first year that an intern was able to get college credit for the program,” Bleess noted. “For the last two years, we were working with interns who were coming to us from Alexander Technical Institute, and each year we’d mail out to Mankato, Minnesota West, Alexandria and Rochester to see if there’s anyone in those schools who might be in our area for the summer.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of local kids that are interested in law enforcement be able to be a part of this program. It’s not just a great resume builder for a candidate, it really gives them a leg up in an interview. When someone asks one of our interns a question in an interview, they can draw off of real experiences that they’ve had.”

Parker is grateful for that added experience.

“When I go into the skills program next year, I won’t be going in blind,” he said. “I’ve already seen my first DWI arrest and how they handle everything. I’m also riding with other officers so I can see how everyone operates.”

Bleess said the goal is for Stevens to ride with as many officers and deputies as possible during the summer.

“It’s fun for us in the summer, because it’s an opportunity for us to sit up a little straighter and make sure that we’re doing things right. So it’s not just good for Parker, it’s good for us as officers to have someone to work with and we learn from the questions he asks.”

“I’m just grateful to the city and the Sheriff’s Office for this opportunity,” Stevens said.