Becker Police Chief Brent Baloun is coming up on his 15th year with the BPD. In honor of Police Recognition Week, the Patriot reached out for an interview about his 29-year career as a police officer.
Getting into Law
During his first year of college, Chief Baloun was studying to be a chiropractor. But he soon discovered that the classes weren’t quite for him. A few of his friends were taking courses in law enforcement, and Baloun started to take an interest in becoming a policeman. After he began taking law enforcement classes, his grades went up and he knew it was the right track for him.
Towards the end of his education, Baloun thought it was time to get some experience under his belt, and he began an internship with Sherburne County.
In 1992, there was a lot of competition for jobs as police officers, so Baloun took a job as a loss prevention officer, an officer in a retail space who prevents shoplifting, right out of school. After some time, he was offered a position on the Crosby police force, which he was thrilled to take, since it was near his hometown of Brainerd.
He spent three years with the Crosby police dept., but during that time he was dating his future wife, who lived in St. Cloud. He spent a lot of his time off commuting from Crosby to St. Cloud to be with her. So, he applied to work for the St. Cloud police dept. and was accepted. He served in St. Cloud for many years, in many different positions, though he spent the majority of his time in investigative positions.
He took some law enforcement courses from the FBI, which he believed helped him get the job as Becker’s Police Chief.
Service in Becker
In 2006, Baloun was offered the position of Becker’s Police Chief. He wasn’t sure at first, but he and his wife came to see the community, and liked the area a lot. He said they enjoyed the rural feel of Becker without having to be too far from the cities, and they liked the school system for their young family.
Baloun said he loves to serve the Becker community because the people are very supportive of the police department, and accepting of him, despite the fact that he isn’t from Becker himself.
He says the community is much quieter than St. Cloud.
“Becker still has things going on,” he said, “But it’s not at the same level.”
He attributes this to neighbors who care about one another.
Baloun has focused on increasing the transparency of the department using tech such as body cameras, through releasing an annual police report, and through communications with the city council.
He also said Becker is one of the best departments around in regards to training quality officers through the reserve program. This has, unfortunately, led to other departments recruiting officers away from Becker, so there is a bit of a revolving door situation.
He’s very proud of the staff he has, though. He says he’s always proud to see them interact with the community, whether in person or when reviewing their body cams. He applauds their loyalty and energy.
“They keep me young!” he said.
Baloun says that he feels he’s brought the department to the next step in its evolution during his time as chief.
“And the next chief will do the same!” he said.
He thinks the department is set up well so that, when he retires in a few years, there will be a smooth transition to the next chief.
Future of Policing
Baloun is concerned for the future of police departments. He’s worried that, if some proposed laws are passed, many officers will decide to leave the profession, making it hard for small community departments like Becker’s to recruit new officers to keep the community safe.
“Change is not always a bad thing,” he said, noting that departments always have room to improve, but he worries that police work will become a lot more difficult in the future.