FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        OPCLEE

THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2002                                                                         202/307-0703



First Class Graduates Under Justice Department Program


LITTLE FALLS, MINNESOTA – The first class of Minnesota Police Corps cadets will graduate in ceremonies here on Friday, June 7, 2002.  Seventeen highly-trained Police Corps officers will be added to community patrols throughout Minnesota.  Minnesota is one of 22 states and territories that recruit and train college graduates to serve four years as community police officers through a program funded by the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP).


“These men and women have distinguished themselves through their perseverance and commitment to serving their fellow Americans,” said Deborah J. Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs.  “These officers will be working to ensure public safety and making a difference in the lives of citizens they serve.”


             The Police Corps is a competitive college scholarship program for students who

agree to work in a state or local police force for at least four years.  Scholarship funds cover education expenses, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, room and board, and miscellaneous expenses.


Tomorrow’s graduates of the Minnesota Police Corps program will join six law enforcement agencies, including the Minnesota State Patrol, and the Blaine, Burnsville, Edina, Lakeville, and St. Cloud Police Departments.


The graduating Police Corps officers are: Mike Bell of Waite Park; Craig Benz of Bloomington; Eric Carlson of South St. Paul; Patrick Gast of Prior Lake; Jason Haider of Lino Lakes; Emao Morgan of Inver Grove Heights; Paul Oelrich of Bemidji; Erika Riggs of St. Paul; Bryan Rychner of Ramsey; Jeremy Solie of Maple Grove; Pilar Stone of St. Peter; Kevin Sullivan of Spring Lake Park; Jared Taylor of Morristown; Mandi VanOverbeke of Alexandria; Dana Wallace of Bloomington; Robert Zak of Forest Lake; and Gina Wieler of Walhalla, North Dakota.


The graduation ceremony, which will be held at the Camp Ripley Recreation Center, is the culmination of a rigorous 21‑week Police Corps training program.  This basic training teaches the knowledge, skills and attitudes police officers need to serve on community patrol. At the conclusion of the training, all participants must satisfy high performance standards for physical, mental and emotional fitness. The police departments in which individual participants will provide additional training as appropriate.


Students interested in the Police Corps apply to the lead agency of the participating state in which they wish to serve. The Minnesota Police Corps is currently accepting applications for the Fiscal Year 2003 class. Applications are evaluated based upon defined selection criteria.


For additional information about the Minnesota Police Corps program, contact Vikki Otto at 651/628‑6722 or see   Information about OJP’s Police Corps program and other OJP initiatives is available at the OJP Website at:






For additional information contact Sheila Jerusalem at 202/307-0703.