Rosemount Police Chief Mikael Dahlstrom is ready to tackle his new role in a community he grew up in and has devoted his professional career to building deep relationships.
During his swearing-in ceremony June 4 at Rosemount City Hall, fellow officers, county deputies, first responders and family welcomed Dahlstrom while Mayor Bill Droste presided. Dahlstrom, 36, is the first internal police officer promoted to chief since the '90s. The previous three police chiefs have been external hires.
Second to none teamwork
The police department's ability to come together and work well as a team is its foundation and strength, Dahlstrom said.
"This department is built on character and we wear honor, integrity and courage on our sleeve," he said. "I am so lucky to come into a group that has that down."
Dahlstrom said he cares about Rosemount and likes to take something small and grow it into something bigger, making sure it reaches its full potential.
"It was a no brainer because having worked in the department day-to-day, I felt comfortable with all of our officers and I felt very supported by our staff," Dahlstrom said. "They work hard every day and they are focused on development and they do self reflection. Teamwork is second to none."
Dahlstrom credited former Rosemount police chiefs as serving as mentors during his 13-year career with the police department.
"They left a fingerprint on this department and I am going to do my best to live up to that legacy," Dahlstrom said.
Dahlstrom said he will focus on providing officers the resources to be successful and grow in their public safety career. He said his educational development in grad school had a big affect on him as an officer to be able to do his own self reflection and work on his emotional intelligence.
"It is great for the law enforcement role because of how stressful the position can be and there is a lot of public scrutiny," Dahlstrom said. "You need to have a very high EQ (emotional quotient) to be successful, and it makes your life that much better when you can recognize how to manage your emotions before they manage you."
He found the benefits of working the police beat while being cognizant and holding a mindset that is a model where officers can make sure to stop, challenge and choose. He said he also wants to help officers become better in managing their role.
"Based on how many different hats we need to wear - you need to be a mental health professional, you need to be able to handle the active shooter, you need to be able to investigate a fraud, and you need to be able to teach at the schools and be a mentor," Dahlstrom said. "We want to make sure we have a partnership with the community and we have done the training and time investment to do all those things.
Dahlstrom said wants to make sure the officers take care of their own personal wellness, health and keep strong mental health.
"This is as important as the ability to talk to a suspect during an interrogation," he added.
Understaffed, pending promotions
The police department will be promoting officers this year.
Dahlstrom said the department is understaffed as a result of retirements and resignations in the last six months, as well as injuries. Several officers also serve in the military and need to be off duty for weeks or months.
The department is down about eight officers and now responding and working with a 25-person staff and that can be a challenge, Dahlstrom said.
"They pick each other up often," Dahlstrom said, referring to how fellow officers stay to work extended shifts with longer hours. In the last year, the department has seen nine babies born to families and that means paternity and maternity leave time off work.
This year, the department will look to promote a commander to gain some administrative assistance and foster the vision of the department. The department will need to promote a sergeant and hire a fifth police officer. Currently, the department has four new police officers in training, hired in the last six months.
"That is pretty unheard of for a department our size, so we have rearranged some positions to have all of our trainers here and we brought back some supplemental positions," Dahlstrom said.
After patrol staffing is up to speed, there is a need to hire a drug task force agent and community resource officer who will work in the schools and community.
Dahlstrom said he wants to increase transparency, both internally and externally, so the department can better communicate with the public.
"People do not know the day-to-day duties of a police officer," he said.
Inspired to work in law enforcement after he took an introduction to criminal justice class, Dahlstrom considered a career in medicine since his brother works as a doctor and his sister is a nurse. His paternal grandfather, who served in World War II, worked as the police chief in Rush City, Minn.
Choosing to write a reflection paper after participating on a police ride-along with the Mendota Heights Police Department, Dahlstrom said he was convinced about the value of the law enforcement profession.
"It sold me that evening and I liked the variety and how officers were a jack-of-all-trades, he said. "They were doing a lot of different things within one shift and I also liked how unpredictable the environment was and that excited me."
Police work can be valuable at so many levels, he said.
"You have a chance to, even on the smallest level, to influence and have an impact on someone on a daily basis, I don't have kids of my own and I find personal fulfillment through this job," Dahlstrom said.