About the Department
The Waite Park Police Department will protect the liberties, rights and freedoms granted by the constitution of the United States of America, the State of Minnesota and the City of Waite Park and ensure they are extended to all citizens. The Waite Park Police Department will enforce the laws, preserve peace and strive to provide a safe community in which its citizens can work, play and raise their families without fear of violence.
The objective of the internship program is to provide mentorship to students who wish to pursue a career in criminal justice and/or policing. The Waite Park Police Department wants to work in cooperation with the students to provide a learning experience unlike what is learned in the classroom. Through this internship experience we hope to answer any questions, provide understanding of the criminal system and educational as well as personal growth for the student.
historyThe Waite Park Police started with regular citizens who patrolled the streets and worked mostly at night. Since the community was fairly small and citizens knew each other, having patrolmen during the day was not believed to be necessary. These willing individuals patrolled the streets nightly with their personal cars. It was not until 1963 that the village purchased a fully equipped police car for $2,796.
Charlie Grafft became the first Chief of Police in 1971. He began his career in law enforcement in 1952 as a part-time officer. During his time the police station was one room in the city hall building. The need for more space increased. Chief Charlie Grafft and Assistant Ken Dickinson addressed the Village Council to renovate the old No. 1 Pump house located at 225 7th Ave North into their new police station.
In 1992 after spending several years in the renovated police station on 7th Ave North the Village/City Council agreed to build a new government complex on 13th Avenue North which would hold the city offices as well as the police and fire departments. The new police building was built in 1994 and was remodeled in 2004 to add a downstairs which included a gun range, large garage for police vehicles, a training room, one male and one female locker room. Today the police station has two interview rooms, evidence room, gun range, Chiefs’ office, and five additional offices for Sergeants, patrol officers, community service officer and records staff.
As the population grew in Waite Park so did the police department. Emergency calls in 1971 were answered by the sheriff’s office and now they are answered by the 911 system which is Stearns County Dispatch. The number of officers doubled as well. In 1993 there were six full-time officers and eight part-time officers and one support staff.
In 1979 after serving several years as Chief of Police Charlie Grafft became Stearns County Sheriff. Ken Dickinson than became the Chief of Police. Ken began his career as a full-time officer in 1970 and left Waite Park Police Department in 1999. After Dickinson’s retirement, Jim McDermott took over as Chief until 2006. During McDermott’s role as Chief the patch wore by officers changed from an eagle to a patch which included the Waite Park smiling water tower. Lieutenant Dave Nohner and Sergeant Vic Weiss were acting Chief of Police from 2006 until Spring 2008. In April 2008 Dave Bentrud took the role as Chief of Police. Under the leadership of Chief Bentrud, the department has seen many changes and advancements in technology, vehicles, equipment and staffing. The department patch has also been updated and is the current patch you see the officers display on their shoulders.