Randie Carlson never would have believed it if you told her after graduating high school that she would be working toward a career in Law Enforcement. However, when you talk to her now you realize her passion and excitement are geared toward a career as a police officer.
Three years ago Carlson moved to the Twin Cities from Mora (a small town located about two hours outside of the Twin Cities). Initially, she attended the Art Institute to go to school for photography. After three semesters, Carlson decided she viewed photography as more of a hobby and not a career.
That brought her to Normandale in the fall of 2009. She was thinking of going for a degree in English or Psychology, however after taking Intro to Sociology and Intro to Criminal Justice with Stephen Sullivan she changed her focus to Law Enforcement and has not looked back.
“I thought when I started at Normandale I would focus on a track in either English or Psychology,” said Carlson. “Once I took a couple classes with Stephen Sullivan I knew I wanted to be in Law Enforcement. He set me up to take classes with another instructor, Jim Caauwe, and I went to the Citizen’s Police Academy in Bloomington. I kept meeting different people in the field and realized I wanted to do this more and more.”
Carlson is in the process of getting her Bachelor’s Degree in both Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement at Metro State. She graduated from Normandale with an associate’s degree in Law Enforcement in 2012.
She believes the instructors and courses that she took at Normandale have been an excellent preparation for Metro State and eventually a career as a police officer. Carlson likes that the teachers have a lot of field experience in what they are teaching and that they do their best to pass that along to the students.
“I think one of the things I really like about the Law Enforcement track at Normandale is that the teachers are either ex or current cops,” said Carlson. “They give you great insight, and a real in-depth look at the field instead of just repeating it from a book. We also have a lot of great guest speakers who come in and talk to you about some of the things you need to know. It is also good because we get to talk to them and make connections professionally. These classes have helped me fall in love with Law Enforcement.”
Along with the classes that Carlson has enjoyed, she has also had some invaluable experiences in the field. One of the experiences that helped her gain great insight were the ride-alongs with current police officers. She did four ride-alongs during her time at Normandale.
“The ride-alongs have been a great experience,” said Carlson. “I have been exposed to a lot of things I would not see in many other situations. It has given me a great perspective about being a police officer, and helped me gain a great understanding of how to handle different situations in the field.”
Even though Carlson is excited about become a police officer, she had some initial apprehensions about some of the aspects of the job. Carlson was not sure she could handle the physical nature or some of the requirements to be a police officer.
However, she has taken a CPR class and took a Physical Fitness class to prove to herself and others she is ready for the challenge.
Carlson credits Sullivan for keeping her informed about the requirements she is going to need in the field, and helping to instill with the confidence that she can conquer any challenge on her way to becoming a police officer.
“Stephen Sullivan really helped push me to believe I could become a police officer,” said Carlson. “He built up my confidence. Every time I told him my doubts, he explained to me that they can work with me on some of the aspects I don’t feel I am ready for. Every time I ask a question or raise a concern he assures me that I can handle it.”
When Carlson graduated high school she was not sure what was in store when she moved to the Twin Cities, but she wanted to leave Mora. In her senior year, she was part of a big court case in her hometown that involved sexual harassment charges with a teacher from her school. She did not know it would come into play later in her life, but she got a chance to get closer and get a look at some of the duties the cops while they were investigating and questioning her about the incident.
Because of the experience in her senior year, Carlson was very receptive to volunteer at Cornerstone (a Domestic Violence Center) when Sullivan passed along the opportunity to her. She also had an opportunity on one of the ride-alongs during a situation to talk to a victim of a domestic dispute, and help the police officers she was with calm her down. All of these experiences have helped to make her who she is today, and she is open and appreciates what she has learned.
As she goes to Metro State and continues her journey to becoming a police officer, Carlson reflects on how thankful she is that she has found something she is passionate about and driven to achieve.
“I feel more excited about school then I ever have been,” said Carlson. “I get the sense that I am heading somewhere, and if I were to become a police officer I would really enjoy the fact that I would have a job where I could make a different in society. The incident I went through in high school helped make me who I am today by sparking the initial interest.”
Carlson has made an impact in many different ways in the Law Enforcement program. One of those came in a project that she worked on with Head of Security Eric Bentley and officer Dan Murphy. Through one of her classes, Carlson was assigned to research a problem that she had observed. Carlson chose to do a vulnerability study on Normandale and what the school would do if it had an emergency lockdown. She surveyed students and wrote a seven-page paper that was eventually submitted as a case study for the administration to look at.
She enjoyed the project, and also had fun providing a service for a school that has made such a huge impact on her life. Despite the fact that Carlson is currently attending Metro State, she appreciates the role that Normandale has played in her life.
“I love Normandale,” said Carlson. “It was tough to move on because I liked it so much. The staff at Normandale really seems to care about the students. It was fun to learn from such a knowledgeable group, and I appreciate positive effect my time on Normandale had on my life.”