Editor's Note: This is the third of four articles from a series of interviews with some of the Mendota Heights Police Department's most experienced officers. The series will run this week, in honor of the department's 50th anniversary.
Nine years ago, chief of police Mike Aschenbrener left his department of 20 years in Forest Lake to work for Mendota Heights, joining a very different department than the of today.
During his near-decade as chief, Aschenbrener has made a conscious effort to increase citizen involvement in Mendota Heights. Developing the department’s volunteer base through the Reserve Officer program, which began in 2009, has been a particularly high priority for Aschenbrener.
This kind of participation is especially significant in Mendota Heights because it is, according to Aschenbrener, a bedroom community. As such, the town is populated by corporations and commuters by day and residents by night.
Today’s department is not only more engaged than it was 10 years ago, it is also more educated.
“There’s been a lot of career-enhancing things that will pay huge dividends,” said Aschenbrener.
Since 2003, seven officers have earned advanced degrees in law enforcement and three are currently on track to earn such degrees.
“You can really see how they’ve grown,” said Aschenbrener. “I’m very proud of that fact.”
Aschenbrener also made several changes to the department’s technology systems during his time as chief, including digitizing law enforcement records to increase efficiency.
But despite the many strides forward the department has taken, Aschenbrener recognizes that the MHPD’s 50th anniversary is an important chance to look back.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity to learn,” said Aschenbrener. “Cops are horrible in general at celebrating their history.”
Nevertheless, Aschenbrener is glad to see the department take advantage of this occasion and recognize the MHPD's legacy.