First-time Moorhead police cadets hope to join the force

4 min read

 Suham Ali said the largest number of calls she handles in the Moorhead Police Department’s new cadet program are unlocking vehicles.

One of her fellow cadets, Alli Garding, couldn’t agree more.

“I bet I get one or two every shift,” said Garding, a senior criminal justice major at North Dakota State University.

The two women are in the first class of four cadets, a program that has been a key goal of Police Chief Shannon Monroe to try to attract more minority officers that better reflect the growing diversity in the city.

Currently, the department has about 10 women on its force nearing 60 officers, with two Native Americans and one Hispanic officer. There are also two Hispanic civilian employees in the department.

Ali, who is studying criminal justice at Minnesota State University Moorhead this year after graduating from the program at M-State in Moorhead, is of Somali descent and said she’ll likely join the department after completing an eight-week training program at the Alexandria Technical & Community College starting next May.

“I thought I first wanted to joint the Fargo department, but after meeting the officers here I changed my mind a bit,” she said.

Garding has definitely made up her mind. She has an interview to join the department later this month and would officially become a licensed full-time officer after next summer’s training and by passing her certification exam.

“The officers are so super nice and helpful,” Garding said. “I didn’t know how they might react to us with the program being new, but they have been so welcoming.”

Monroe rearranged the structure of the management team to finance the program as the cadets are paid for their work.

While the locked cars is a major chore, the cadets handle many other “low-level calls” to assist the department’s two community service officers, said Sgt. Chris Martin who is the liaison to the city’s Human Rights Commission and helped recruit and train the cadets through their first few months.

“It frees up our other officers to focus more on more pressing calls,” said Martin.

Other cadet duties include picking up lost dogs and cats, trapping skunks and other animals that work their way into the city, writing parking tickets, taking stolen bicycle reports, helping with traffic control at parades and events and handling barking dog complaints.

Martin said they hope to have the cadets help with traffic control when vehicle accidents increase in the winter months.

Cadets are also gaining experience in writing reports, which is one of the main duties of officers, said Martin.

That’s what Ali, a West Fargo High School graduate, likes about the cadet program as she’s getting the “hand’s on expeience.”

Martin said Ali even helped in an investigation as she also speaks Somali and helped translate for the detectives.

Ali said the trapping of animals was something completely new to her, but she said they have captured skunks and even beavers and then released them later into the wild. She has kind of enjoyed that part of the job.

Garding said her favorite job by far is picking up lost dogs and cats. She said she’s been “lucky” and hasn’t confronted any that were aggressive.

The Becker, Minn., native said she has probably picked up about 20 to 30 lost animals in her first four months on the job.

The cadets are easily spotted as they have specially marked vehicles with the words “Moorhead Police Cadet” on the vehicle.

Garding said she’s always been interested in law enforcement and crime and originally started studying biotechnology but then decided to follow her “first love.”

“I haven’t regretted it since,” she said.

Martin added that the four cadets are “really driven” students, as Ali for example also holds a fulltime job in addition to going to college and working for the police.

The cadets usually work from 12 to 25 hours a week.

The other two cadets in the six-month program, which will allow those selected to serve for up to two years, are Sam Mukanya, also an MSUM criminal justice student who moved here from the Congo in 2016, and Nathan Wambach of Moorhead, whose father was a Moorhead police officer and a Minnesota state trooper.

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