Faribault’s law enforcement leader will have to wait a bit longer to hang up his boots.
Andy Bohlen has been the chief of police in Faribault for more than nine years, but Feb. 25 marks his last day before retirement. His retirement was originally slated for Dec. 31 but has been pushed back nearly two months. At this time, it is uncertain if an interim chief will be needed to fill his role before a new chief is officially selected.
Bohlen takes great pride in the fact that his community supports the Faribault Police Department. This adds to the pride he feels for being part of the department. A community supporting the police is hard to come by today, as “sentiment toward law enforcement ebbs and flows,” said Bohlen. Law enforcement in America has been changing constantly in the last few decades. Southern Minnesota police, especially in Faribault, were quick to adapt to guidelines and standards as they emerged.
According to Bohlen, the next chief’s biggest issue right out of the gate may be the same as one of his biggest challenges.
“The major challenge is motivating talented and diverse candidates to pursue law enforcement,” that said, that same problem is one of several that are keeping police departments from expanding and progressing all across the country.
Another thing that Bohlen sees as very important is the ability to deal with mental health issues. This is done by having avenues for officers and community members to receive counseling and other assistance during and after traumatic events.
By supporting officers’ mental health while on the job, officers are able to perform their duties to the fullest extent possible.
In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Daunte Wright, support for police in many communities has plummeted. In Faribault, the community still supports the police, but enrollment rates into the police academy are still very low. If young people are not interested in joining, police forces everywhere will struggle to keep up with the needs of their communities. Bohlen hoped that whoever succeeds him is willing and able to tackle this issue.
The most important thing that Bohlen learned in his 32 years in law enforcement is “To surround yourself with good, confident people and be honest.” He has stuck to this through his 32 years of public service.
As part of his career, Bohlen also spent 20 years as an officer in Lakeville. In this time, he served a pivotal role in a burgeoning drug task force, something that has found success in Faribault and Rice County. He reports that this work was very rewarding, but he still feels that his time as Faribault’s Police Chief is the biggest highlight of his career.
According to Faribault City Administrator, the city is in the final steps of selecting a new chief of police. In this last portion of the process, the candidates have been narrowed down through a series of interviews and meetings.
At the moment, the city is nearing a decision on finalists. The names of those being considered have not yet been shared by the city. Once the candidates are narrowed down to a certain number of finalists, their names will be made public, and the city will host an open house.
The open house is expected to take place early in February, but the date has not yet been set.