By Scott Kent, Alexandria police chief

Greetings, Echo Press subscribers. It has been four and a half months since I last shared from the Alexandria Police Department. Changes have been occurring such as promotions, special assignments and we are committed to updating and defining our values, mission and vision.

In November, Sergeant Kevin Guenther was promoted to the rank of captain. Captain Guenther has served the City of Alexandria for the last 17 years in numerous positions to include patrol officer, investigator, SWAT team member and sergeant.

In mid-December, we promoted Officer Brian Kakach to the rank of sergeant. Sergeant Kakach has been with the city for 14 years and has served as patrol officer, investigator, and SWAT team member.

Sergeant Kakach’s promotion created an open office in investigations. Officer James Ross was asked to step into investigations and has hit the ground running.

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Just this week, Officer Jason Rosha will be promoted to sergeant replacing Sergeant Tina Lake who will be leaving us after 20 years of service. Sergeant Rosha has been with us for 11 years and served as a patrol officer and commander of the West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. This week we will also be posting an opening for a police officer.

Last week, I was invited to present to the ninth-graders at the Alexandria Area High School for their career exploration day. I have to say, it was a bit more challenging this year to stand in a classroom where half of the students are online and half are inside the classroom. First, hats off to the dedicated and committed teachers of our local schools for the passion they all have to educate the young people of our community. I was in the classroom for a short three hours and came to appreciate the challenges our educators are going through.

A question that I commonly get and was asked again by a student last week is this, “What do you look for in a police officer when you hire?” The answer is, “a nice person that is kind to others.” This is difficult to really measure or test for, but we have tried our hardest to do this with every new hire. Our team has been working hard to clarify and define our values, vision and mission. One word that rises to the top in speaking with our staff is the word “empathy.” Our team has defined empathy as “understanding perspective and demonstrating compassion for others.”

As I reflect on the nearly two dozen interviews we have completed over the last four months involving the various promotions and assignments, it has been very clear that the men and women of the Alexandria Police Department show up every day for work with a desire to give themselves to our community. I believe what makes Alexandria such a wonderful place to live, work, play, raise families and retire are the people who live here. Those of us working for the City of Alexandria are not the only ones recruiting kind, empathetic people to the city. It is the community of Alexandria that brings people here and allows us the opportunity to hire quality people.

The values we have identified for our agency also reflect some of the same values of our community. I believe it is our job to police a community the way it wants to be policed and we will continue to do this with empathy in our hearts. Thank you for allowing us to do this. I am so excited to share more, but need to save the rest for additional columns in the months to come.

Scott Kent is the Alexandria police chief. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.