Minnesota high school student using class project to promote community-police relations

May 06, 2019 10:34 PM

Building trust and relationships between the police and the public is a challenge for communities across the state, but a south metro high schooler is making it his personal mission to help bridge that divide.
"I always wanted to help other people," said Trevor Dostal, a senior at Burnsville High School. 

Since he was five, Trevor Dostal put a career in law enforcement at the top of his list. But with a month until graduation at Burnsville High School, Trevor wants to make a difference with his last big assignment.

"I'm putting a lot of effort and it's a lot to take on," Dostal said. 

It's called Positive Police Action. It's a social media page Trevor created that is dedicated to highlighting the good in law enforcement.

"We hear a lot about the bad things with policing, but the good everyday things that happen throughout the country don't get highlighted as much," Dostal said. 

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He's been reaching out to agencies all over the state, hoping to share their positive interactions with the community. And for Dostal, it's the little things that keep him going.

"The Dakota County Sheriff following me on Twitter, which was pretty cool," he said. "I was cheering out loud when I got that."

He is making progress connecting with officers all over the state, including Officer Aaron Machtemes with Eagan Police.

"I thought to myself, I wasn't doing that at his age," Machtemes said. 

Trevor is also part of the Eagan Police Police Department's Explorer program, and he looks up to Machtemes.

"I was in his shoes once where I looked up to certain officers," Machtemes said. "They guided me and mentored me, and it's really a privilege to even be considered that to him."

Trevor admits not everyone supports his career goals or this project, and he understands very well the widespread tension today.

"A lot of people are like why do you want to be a cop," Dostal said. "In society people are vocal about not supporting them or the things they do wrong, but no one gives them a round of applause for the things they do every single day that's good for the community." 

But despite that, Trevor pushes forward, and it's all leading up towards a community-wide discussion he's organizing at the end of the month.

"The whole idea behind it is to change people's impression," Dostal said. "If one person leaves with a changed attitude on law enforcement, my mission has succeeded."

Trevor wants to keep his website up even after school ends in a month.

The community wide discussion is on May 22 from 5:45 to 7:00 p.m. at the Burnsville High School gymnasium. It is open to the public. 

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Brett Hoffland

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