Updated: 07/20/2014 10:22 PM
Created: 07/18/2014 3:49 PM KSTP.com
By: Stephen Tellier
The St. Paul Police Department is short on officers this summer -- right when crime hits the hardest. But the department has found a unique way of making sure manpower meets the needs of public safety: Taking officers out from behind their desks, and putting them back on the streets.
FIVE EYEWITNESS NEWS rode along with Sgt. Valarie Namen and Ofc. Cindy Rost on Friday. They got their first call of the day almost immediately: A pizza place reporting possible fraudulent payments.
"Apparently one or more of the credit cards has come up as a stolen card," Namen said.
Namen's typical day job is a desk job, overseeing DWI charges and the mounted patrol unit. Friday was her first patrol shift in two-and-a-half years.
"I like working outside. I'm a people person, and as you can tell, I'm kind of a jabber-jaw," Namen said.
She's also a crucial part of SPPD's Officer Force Multiplier program -- one of 120 officers who work administrative or investigative jobs, but will hit the streets this summer to fill the gaps in patrol staffing. Several commanders have even volunteered to pick up shifts. Their help means up to 24 extra officers will be on patrol each weekend.
"We can respond quicker. Instead of acting reactive, we're more proactive, which is what you want to be," Namen said.
On Friday, that meant there was time for immediate follow-up at the address ordering all those pizzas. No adults were home at the time, but the officers still made a meaningful contact -- an 18-year-old celebrating his birthday invited the two officers to his party.
"We have a really great city. We go to a call, people are glad to see us," Namen said.
Minutes later, they responded to a medical call. Officers found an intoxicated male, and gave him a ride home.
It's often not glamorous work. But there's plenty of it to go around.
Most of the 120 officers will pick up two patrol shifts between now and the end of August.