MANKATO — If you’re driving down Glenwood Avenue and happen to see your retired neighbor behind the wheel of a passing squad car, there’s no need to call 911 to report old Pete has finally popped his cork.
There’s a good chance he’ll be doing his civic duty while checking a childhood wish off his bucket list, although without the excitement of a possible high-speed chase.
“It’s a perfect opportunity if you’ve ever wanted to drive a squad car,” said Trudy Kunkel, Mankato Department of Public Safety deputy director. “But you can’t go lights and sirens.”
Kunkel recently put out the word to some of Mankato’s neighborhood associations that the department is looking for a few good drivers. Volunteers are needed from about 7:30-10:30 a.m. weekdays to move squad cars. They will be driving the vehicles to the city garage for maintenance and repairs, to a business that works on lights and sirens, and to a local car wash.
The need is greater than it has been for awhile because the department is in the process of switching to its new fleet of Ford Interceptors, Kunkel said. The cars need to be brought to different places to have police equipment installed. The department also just left its temporary location, at the intersection of Hoffman Road and Victory Drive, that happened to be next door to the city’s vehicle maintenance facility.
“A lot of times it’s our community service officers who are doing that or our patrol officers who are doing that in the morning,” Kunkel said. “That’s the time we’d like them out patrolling or in the school zones.”
Director of Public Safety Todd Miller said recruiting volunteer drivers is one of many ways the department is working to get residents involved in community policing. One example: Watch groups are being formed to be the “eyes and ears” for police and firefighters in neighborhoods and parks.