It was Valentine’s Day, 1987 when Al and Kris Shuda arrived in Faribault. The couple had left Wisconsin so Al could start a new job as a correctional officer at the Rice County Sheriff’s Office.
While law enforcement brought the Shudas to Faribault, Al never imagined that 30 years later his family of five would all be involved in law enforcement.
Al Shuda retired from his post as a sergeant in the Faribault Police Department three years ago. Before he worked his way up, he served as a correctional officer for three years before moving to full-time patrol officer. He then joined the department’s investigations unit and late became a sergeant.
When Al retired, the Faribault Department wasn’t without a Shuda. Not long before he wrapped up his law enforcement career, the Shudas’ oldest son, Matt, was sworn in as a Faribault Police officer. That was three and a half years ago.
These days it’s a two Shuda department. Last week, during a City Council meeting, the couple’s middle son, Michael, was sworn in as an officer for the Faribault PD. The proud father was on hand to pin Michael’s badge on while older brother, Matt, looked on.
And while it’s too early to tell, youngest son, Jason Shuda, a 14-year old at Bethlehem Academy, could someday be the fourth Shuda to become a Faribault officer. Like his brothers before him, Jason is a member of the Faribault Police Department Explorers, a program for high-school age kids interested in law enforcement.
Not to be left out, family matriarch Kris Shuda also has a direct link to Rice County law enforcement. In 2002, she took a job with the Sheriff’s Office as a records clerk, and has served the county for 15 years.
Finding their path
When Kris and Al thought of starting a family in Faribault, they never expected they would have three boys who patrolled Faribault’s streets.
While it would seem having two parents in law enforcement would sway the children toward a career in law enforcement, Matt and Michael agreed their parents’ approach was exactly the opposite.
“I would say it’s almost the opposite of being pressured into this field,” said Matt. “I had several conversations telling me that law enforcement isn’t all the glamour you see. There’s lots of stress, long hours. It’s not about chasing bad guys and putting them in jail. That was made very clear to us. We were warned about what the job truly entails and were cognizant of those realities. They definitely weren’t pushing for it, but they weren’t resistant either. They have just been supportive.”
While Kris and her husband have found happiness in the law enforcement field, she urged her kids to find their own path, whatever that may be.
“Our goal was to see them happy and go into something they love,” she said of Michael and Matt’s careers at the Faribault Police Department. “I’m proud of who they are and who they’ve become. They are both so smart.”
When asked how he made the choice to join the department, Matt said his experience with the Explorers led him down that path.
“When I joined the Explorers, I did it as a way to learn about law enforcement before going to college and spending thousands of dollars to explore a field,” he said. “It was a good way to learn about the field and decide if I wanted to go into it or not.”
When he thinks back on the “rewarding experience” of his swearing-in three years ago, he believes it was the right decision to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
Similarly, Michael had a couple hundred hours of ride-along experience through the Explorers before he went to school to become an officer. After school, he signed on as a Community Service Officer and fell in love with the department.
“The atmosphere of the department is great. They love to have fun, but they know when it’s time to get to work,” said Michael.
Now a licensed peace officer, he understands the importance of working in the family field.
“Being sworn in made it real,” he said. “The pressure’s on now. I’m actually a cop and I get to go to work every day. I’m going to have a lot of years of exciting things that other people don’t get to see with their jobs, so I think it’s good.”
As for Jason, school, sports and being a teenager are foremost on his mind, but he is an active member of the Explorers already. While Al and Kris want Jason to make his own decision about law enforcement, Al said “he seems to be swaying in that direction.”
No matter what Jason decides to do with his life, the Shudas are excited for their sons and their commitment to the profession.
“It was a proud moment for us parents,” said Al. “That’s what they chose to do. What they want to do.”
Similarly, Kris has seen law enforcement bring out the best in her boys and is pleased to see them working hard at what they do.
“It’s just a lot of pride,” she said, smiling. “When you have your kids, you hope that you can raise them in the best way you can. The goal is that they are happy with their choices. Yeah, there’s risk, but there’s risk in any job. I just put it in God’s hands and hope they come home.”
Al and Kris are certainly proud of their three sons, just like the city of Faribault is proud to have the Shudas.
“The Shuda family has dedicated many collective hours to public safety and countless hours of volunteer work through the city and through their involvement in other civic duties,” said Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen. “We are privileged to have such a dedicated family call the Faribault Police Department home.”
Bohlen and Al overlapped briefly before Al’s retirement. During that time, Bohlen noticed his supervisory skills and the fact that he “genuinely cared for the community.”
While Bohlen and Rice County law enforcement are pleased to have every Shuda around, Al appreciates the support he, his wife and his three sons have gotten.
“We are thankful for the opportunities the Rice County Sheriff’s Office and the Faribault Police Department have given us,” he said. “It was a great opportunity and we are appreciative of that.”