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Alexandria cop and ATCC law graduate give insights into training, responsibility of police officers

Alexandria Police Sergeant Brian Kakach and Alexandria Technical and Community College law enforcement graduate Jack Anderson sat down with the Echo Press to discuss the training and responsibilities of police officers while providing background on themselves.

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Jack Anderson, left, and Brian Kakach discussed training, responsibilities and political talking points with the Echo Press for the Talk of the Town podcast on Friday, May 6, 2022.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press
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Editor's note: The following is the first in a two-part series featuring an Echo Press interview with Alexandria Police Sergeant Brian Kakach and 2022 Alexandria Technical and Community College law enforcement graduate Jack Anderson.

ALEXANDRIA – An Alexandria police sergeant and a law enforcement graduate discussed the training and responsibilities of police officers on Friday, May 6, for the Echo Press "Talk of the Town" podcast.

Jack Anderson recently graduated from Alexandria Technical and Community College’s law enforcement program. He grew up living in Moorhead until eighth grade and finished his high school education in Perham.

Anderson chose to do his police training at Alexandria College for a variety of reasons.

“Some of it was cost, some of it was the location, but a lot of it was just the standard of training,” he said.

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Anderson said he chose to become a police officer because, to him, it’s a fulfilling way to give back and help the community. Anderson took a job with the Moorhead Police Department following graduation.

Originally from Plymouth, Sergeant Brian Kakach has served the Alexandria community through the Alexandria Police Department for 15 years.

He initially studied at Bethel University, where he bounced around from major to major. Starting with psychology, then into communications and even social work. Ultimately, he realized his true passion lies in law enforcement, which he says encompasses everything he wanted to do.

After two years at Bethel, he transferred to Mankato State University and earned his bachelor's degree in law enforcement. Due to a competitive work field, Kakach began his career as a volunteer police reserve in Plymouth until finding full-time work in Crystal and then in Duluth.

After getting stranded on a lake while vacationing in Alexandria — a favorite childhood vacation spot — he was “rescued” by a water patrol deputy who mentioned that the city was hiring police officers, so Kakach applied.

“I got one of the positions about 15 years ago and loved it ever since,” he said.

Kakach and Anderson sat down with the Echo Press on May 6, to discuss the training, responsibilities and conflicts of being a police officer.

We feel like we're a jack of all trades but a master of none
Brian Kakach

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to part one of the interview in podcast form by going to https://www.echopress.com/echo-press-minute , or by downloading the episode on the Echo Press Minute Podcast through Spotify , Apple Music , Google Podcasts , and Audible .

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Q: In your time as a cop, what have you enjoyed the most?

Kakach: Just being out in the community and taking the calls. I originally thought I'd really be interested in traffic enforcement and the proactive stuff like drug interdiction. But ultimately, I just love being out in the community and seeing the issues and how we can solve them.

Q: When you first started, were there things you were nervous about, or maybe you didn't feel prepared?

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Brian Kakach (left to right), Dustin Ditch, Vicky Skotterud and Jamie Kakach hand out candy to children along Broadway.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo.

Kakach: Yes and no. I knew that coming into it, I would have a lot of other people to learn from. Once you start with a police department, you're in a field training position with another officer in a squad car for three to six months. And you always have that person there with you. You slowly kind of build up to the job on your own. So there's a lot of training even after you get hired. We learn our resources. That's probably the biggest thing: knowing your resources; who can you talk to and ask what questions.

Anderson: Not a whole lot as far as anxious or nervous. I just want to uphold the standard of being a peace officer. I don't want to go on scene, twiddle my thumbs, and look like I have no idea what I'm doing. Somebody's looking at me to solve their issues. I'm meeting them on the worst day they'll have in a long while. So I want to uphold the image of a police officer.

Q: What sort of training did you go through in school?

Kakach: We learned how to shoot guns, went through driving school, critical incident training and how to deal with people in stressful situations and if you get in a fight with somebody, how to control them. We get a lot of training. We feel like we're a jack of all trades but a master of none. Especially when we're distracted and have to make decisions in a split second, they really try to prepare us for that. Nothing really does until it's the real thing.

Anderson: The only thing I would add to what the sergeant said is that we've gone over a little more of community policing efforts. The history of the styles of policing, different problem-solving methods, and trying to think of ways to solve problems that are going to be more long-lasting. And officer wellness, how to take care of yourself off duty and understanding what your mind and your body are going through on duty and how to take care of that psychologically.

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Kakach: A class that I took at Mankato was called police stress. And it was just dedicated to that. It teaches you about what your body goes through under stress. We actually had to write a 50-page paper on how we see stress in our lives and how we manage and deal with it, and how it relates to what we've learned in the class. Understanding what your body goes through, like tunnel vision and different things like that. Again, you can't get that through training very well; you're going to get that in a real-life experience.

Q: What skills should an officer have that the school can’t teach?

Kakach: The number one thing is you can't take things personally. People will say all kinds of things to you on the job. You can't take it home with you. They're going to say what they're going to say. Don't worry about it. Move on. You really got to have some thick skin.

Q: You often see the worst of the community; does that affect your view of the community? And if so, how do you keep a positive mindset?

Kakach: Yeah, that's a very interesting thing. When I became a Plymouth reserve, which was my hometown, I absolutely loved it. But you see a different side to your city, a side you don't want to see. I thought Duluth was just an incredible town; when you get there and realize what goes on in the city, it kind of changes your thought of it.

Coming to Alexandria, I was worried it would do the same thing. And it did a little bit. But something very interesting about working for a city like Alexandria is most of the officers that work here live here. So we take a lot of pride in our community. Coming to work every day, wanting to make our community a better community, we're going to work very hard at that. The problem is we get to know a lot of people in the community. So it seems like half the cars I pull over now are people I know. That makes it a little bit more challenging to do my job.

We do get approached, and usually, it's positive, but I've certainly had negative experiences.

If you don't live in the community that you serve, people aren't going to really recognize you nearly as much. But if I lived in a completely different community, I wouldn’t be so excited and wouldn’t have the same pride in that community that I do in the one I live in.

Part two will feature discussions about no-knock warrants, systematic racism, the "defund the police" movement, as well as ways cops can build trust with the community and what it means to be an Alexandria police officer.

This is a continuation of the Echo Press interview with Alexandria Police Sergeant Brian Kakach and Alexandria Technical and Community College law enforcement graduate Jack Anderson. They discuss systemic racism, no-knock warrants, defund the police and the relationship between the police department and the Alexandria community.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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