Two new recruits, both originally from North Dakota, have joined the Dickinson Police Department and both are anxious to represent law enforcement and interact with the community.

During the Dickinson City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, Dillion Praus and Kayla Richard were sworn in as new officers of the DPD by Deputy City Administrator Linda Carlson. Praus, a Trinity High School graduate, earned his bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife science at Valley State University and served as a park ranger with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The 22-year-old was honored to be hired as a new police officer.

“... I’m pretty young yet, but I’m very grateful to serve the city of Dickinson and very happy I can represent the Dickinson Police Department,” Praus remarked.

Richard, a Bismarck Century High School graduate, received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Minot State University and was a juvenile institutional resident specialist at the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan before applying to the position in Dickinson, where she has local ties to family.

“I’m excited to be back in my roots here and I look forward to working with the community and getting to know more people,” Richard said, adding. “And using my past experiences with my new career.”

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With the two new recruits, the DPD has hired six new employees this year and are currently in the interview phase for the last position they need to fill for 2021 to be fully staffed, Lt. Mike Hanel said.

Praus and Richard are about a month into their training. They initially began with a two-week onboarding process, which entailed getting access into the systems and criminal database. Then the recruitment training encompasses ethics, decision making, search and seizure and then covering their initial qualifications such as their firearm, taser and pepper spray, Hanel noted.

Now, the two new officers are in the “hands-on phase” where they ride around with a trained field officer, who has several years of experience and a field training certification, and they show them the “ropes of law enforcement,” Hanel continued. Training both requires some everyday classroom criteria and then using those stills and tactics in the field; field training will last up until Christmas. That’s when the recruits will near their graduation from field training. Beginning in January, they will be required to attend the 12-week North Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy in Bismarck.

By the end of field training and academy, Praus and Richard will be equipped with the best tools and tactics and services to serve the community, he added.

“They’re both very eager to learn. During the first couple of phases when I was with them, they showed a big eagerness to learn. They really have that instilled sense of being involved in the community so I believe they’re going to be very … good community ambassadors,” Hanel said. “They’re encompassing exactly what we’re looking for in an officer and we suspect they’re going to be really good additions to our department.”

The initial hiring process begins with the applicant filling out an application on the City of Dickinson website. The DPD’s HR Department will then score the applicants based on their application and resume. Depending on the number of position openings, DPD officials will then interview applicants and get an assessment on each one to determine who will move forward with the oral interview panel. Based on the interviews, the panel will recommend certain applicants to the Chief of Police. Once the chief makes the decision to hire them, a thorough background check is conducted following a polygraph test, drug testing and physical examination, Hanel said.

“Even though a department our size — as small as it is compared to some other larger cities — we really pride ourselves in the level of backgrounding that we do. I think we’re almost a gold standard, if not in the state for sure the region as far as how meticulous we are about who we are hiring because we want to make sure we’re hiring the absolute best candidate that’s going to serve the citizens of Dickinson with the expectations that they’re looking for and deserve. So we want to make sure they’re real constitutionally lined and they’re sound decision makers, their ethics are without question. So that backgrounding process really helps paint the picture of who we are hiring,” he noted.

With each new recruit the DPD hires, training varies depending on what they find is challenging and their skill sets. Hanel explained that DPD values its multiple-approaches learning experience. Some recruits learn better with a more hands-approach, others learn by observing. The training officer will try to tailor each individual’s learning style with the most appropriate method they’ll be able to retain the knowledge, he added.

Chief Dustin Dassinger is just as eager to see his new employees succeed in their new roles.

“It feels really good. With what’s going on in the country and the world today, it obviously takes a real special person to want to be a police officer right now because there is a lot of scrutiny. (But) the two of them are going to be a big asset to our department once they’re trained in and get some experience,” Dassinger said. “We look forward to getting them onboarded 100% as part of our team.”