FAIRMONT - There was a new face on the Fairmont police force this summer, as the department and Martin County Sheriff's Office partnered to provide an internship opportunity to a local law enforcement student.
Josh Nelson, a 2009 Martin County West alum, graduated from Alexandria this past spring with his law enforcement degree.
"It's going to be valuable to future employment," Nelson said. "I'm seeing things firsthand; I'm doing things versus just observing."
ON?PATROL?— The bike patrol was just one of Josh Nelson’s responsibilities as he interned with the Fairmont Police Department this summer.
"The reason why we've started this is because for a number of years we had college graduates calling us inquiring about internships," said Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma. "Last year, we put together the frame work ... But this year has been a nice kickoff."
Splitting time with the sheriff's office, Nelson has obtained experience in many areas of enforcement, from bike patrol, to having his own call number on the radio, to boat patrol.
"I started with street patrol, and I got to understand what they do with their shifts," Nelson said. "The routine traffic stops, accident reports, DUIs, just the different variety of calls. And also getting to know all the different officers."
Nelson also learned all the behind-the-scenes work, such as documentation.
"We would have him write up reports of the calls he was along on, and after we wrote our own, we'd check his and compare," said Fairmont Police Sgt. Mike Hunter.
Nelson also became familiar with related occupations, such as dispatch, jailer and court officials.
"I always wanted to become a cop," Nelson said. "I enjoyed the street patrol, because I like to get out in public and communicate with people."
This was something he accomplished by doing the bike patrol.
"You see and hear more on a bike than you do in a squad car," Hunter said. "He is seen out there, along with being another set of eyes and ears. It gives him that first-hand experience."
The internship was supposed to give Nelson 150 to 200 hours of experience this summer. He had already clocked more than 250 hours before his internship is scheduled to end Monday. He has already interviewed for a position in Jackson County and put in some applications in other parts of the region.
"I don't want to move too far north," said the Sherburn native. "I don't want too big a community. I want that public relationship, not just enforcing and not caring. I could probably work up to about the size of Mankato, but not much bigger than that."
"We've been happy to be able to offer this," Hunter said. "We like to give the preference to a local area student, but it's still a work in progress. It's been a good experience for Josh and our officers."
"It's been fantastic, I learned a lot," Nelson said. "School can only teach you so much. I definitely think all (students) should go through it, even if it's unpaid because it shows the dedication you have."