Helping to make a difference
The scene is a first grade classroom at the Blooming Prairie Elementary School.
The players are fellow first graders of Eli Johnson, Eli himself and Eli’s aunt Anna Peterson, a Dodge County Deputy Sheriff.
Deputy Peterson and Blooming Prairie Police Officer Dan Peach recently made an appearance at the elementary school to read to the first graders and also acquaint them a bit more with law enforcement work.
Little Eli was beaming from ear to ear as he told fellow first graders that the deputy sheriff was his aunt.
Anna has been a patrol officer part time for the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department since August of last year. Her goal is to get a full-time police position and maybe with the Dodge County department.
Peterson, 24, is a native of Blooming Prairie, graduating from Blooming Prairie High School in 2010. She then attended Hamline University for two years, studying criminal justice. She transferred to Minnesota State University at Mankato for her final three years of schooling.
Her parents are Brian and Laura Peterson and they reside in Blooming Prairie. A sister Elizabeth also resides in the Blooming Prairie area.
Anna and Dan Peach graduated together, thus she said it is very rewarding to connect with a fellow student on the professional level.
Anna’s interest in law enforcement actually started in ninth grade. Her interest was sparked from a feeling of wanting to help others. She did that initially in college, working at the Mankato hospital.
Anna said it is very rewarding to know that you are helping someone and making a difference.
“I’ve always respected law enforcement and built a relationship with law enforcement while working at Casey’s General Store in Blooming Prairie,” Anna relates.
It’s an honor to wear the police uniform, says Peterson. “Our role is to be a vital part of the community and be a positive influence on kids.
Anna picks up shifts as needed, mainly working Hayfield which is under contract with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department. Her work includes responding to calls which may be medical, domestic or a business alarm.
“We also create work for ourselves by doing business and church checks to see they are locked and secure. Community engagement is also important being present in the community and letting people know you are in town. A lot of it is presence.”
With the image of police officers becoming less favorable in some parts of the country, Anna said it is comforting to see the “tons of support” shown by Dodge County residents.
Dodge County communities often sponsor thank you dinners, Peterson said.
A concern about a positive image, Deputy Peterson said this forces her to work harder and try to make an impact, especially on younger children.
It is encouraging, Peterson said to see more people going into the law enforcement field in Minnesota. She said the Mankato school now has 85 students in law enforcement, compared to 60 when Peterson attended. “Minnesota has one of the toughest and strongest law enforcement programs in the country,” Petersonn has been told.
Deputy Peterson is constantly in tune with training programs, recently finishing training on domestic situations. She has also been firearm trained. Other training covers field sobriety testing and familiarizing herself with seat belt and child restraint laws.
When not in uniform, Anna likes to hang out with family. “Police officers need strong support and I get that from my family,” she said. Anna and her dad drag race competitively in the summer.
“I would love to stay in this community as a patrol officer,” Anna affirms.