Minot Police Chief Jeff Balentine has bragging rights over all his peers in the state. And he couldn't be more proud.
Minot officers Jessica Mosman and Caisee Price graduated from the most recent class of the North Dakota Law Enforcement Academy in Bismarck, finishing first and second respectively in their class of 26 "rookies."
For their parts, Mosman and Price do not seem overly impressed with their achievements.
Dave Caldwell/MDN •
Patrol officers Jessica Mosman, left, and Caisee Price, two of the Minot Police Department’s newest officers, graduated first and second recently from the law enforcement academy in Bismarck.
"We've had quite a few officers here male and female that have been valedictorian," Mosman said.
State law requires new officers to attend either the academy in Bismarck or the law enforcement training program in Devils Lake within one year of being hired.
Balentine said the Minot department tries to give its new hires at least six weeks of in-house training before the academy, including the field training officer program.
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"We try to do (the in-house training) to help ease the stress of the academy," Balentine said. "Taking them away from their families for 12 weeks is stress enough.
"We try to let them have at least an idea of what the street is like. But that doesn't mean they're going to finish one-two.
"You have to apply yourself. And these young ladies definitely applied themselves."
Mosman said that rookies often enter the academy with no such practical experience.
"We had a lot that did have some kind of experience this time around, though," Mosman said. "Well, maybe not a lot - we had a few officers who were officers for a while, got out of it for a while and then came back."
Mosman and Price may have "breezed through" the academy in a manner of speaking, but all was not going smoothly during the time they were there.
"We were supposed to graduate March 26, but because of the flood issues down in Bismarck, we got done on the 25th," Price said. The class started on Jan. 5.
Mosman and Price were asked if they had any idea going in what the academy would be like.
"No," Price said with a laugh. "We had no idea."
"We knew some of the topics we were going to cover, but we didn't know what the atmosphere was going to be like," Mosman said. "We've had other officers tell us, 'Some of the things you'll do are ... accident reports, cover accident scenes and things like that.
"We kind of had an idea, but the way it was set up we had no idea."
Price said that in relation to academy training, there is no difference between females and males.
"Everything's the same," Price said. "All the way down to our physical test. I mean, granted, usually males and females are broken up in their point scoring systems, but as far as the practicals, the hands-on stuff, everything is all the same."
Price said she thinks the academy should be as "real-life" as possible.
"We're all going to deal with the same type of people," she said.
While Price, who has a degree in elementary education, says she wanted to grow up to be a teacher, Mosman's aspirations to law enforcement have been lifelong.
"I've had family members in law enforcement and different aspects of public service, so I always knew I wanted to do some form of law enforcement," Mosman said.
Both were in agreement that they felt it was exciting to help people.
One might find himself wondering if the typical guy on the street who has had a few too many adult beverages is more likely to be overly amorous toward a young, female officer than their male counterparts. And while Mosman and Price both chuckle and offer examples of marriage proposals and requests for their phone numbers "You just deal with it," Mosman said they are quick to point out that in reality, such situations occur with the same frequency with male officers and female subjects.
Balentine agreed in his patently humorous, self-deprecating style.
"A number of times I've been asked even as ugly as I am to give my phone number to a lady," Balentine laughed. "No way."
Along similar lines, Price and Mosman don't believe they are any less likely to be victims of violent behavior than their male counterparts.
"I think if they're willing to hit their own 'loving' wife or girlfriend or whatever, who's to say they're not going to hit some stranger just because they're wearing a uniform?" Price said. "If they're mad, they're mad."
In fact, Mosman found out firsthand that chivalry is for the most part dead at 1 a.m. when she was punched in the face by a male subject outside a southwest Minot night club in September 2008 while responding to a fight call.
"It is amazing that's one of the things when people get a few underneath their belt, they'll take anybody and everybody on," Balentine said. "Female, male, uniformed or not, they're bent on fighting.
"That's what these young ladies are trained to do move in and establish control. Jessica was establishing control when she got hit, but she established control and took the individual into custody."
Price and Mosman were asked what advice they would give to a young boy or girl who wanted to grow up and have a career in law enforcement.
"Go to school," Price said. "Get your education. And try to stay out of trouble."
Price said she enjoys the challenge of implementing her training in everyday duty, and added that training is handy to have in sticky situations.
"Nobody ever calls you when they're having a good day," she said with a laugh.
"We have a great group of officers," Mosman said. "Great training, great supervisors, great administration and a great community to serve."