WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Police Department has added a new member to its roster.

Madison Stearns began the department’s 12-week field training process on March 4. Once complete, she’ll be a patrol officer, primarily working afternoon shifts.

“I like the department,” Stearns said of what she thinks after her first five weeks on the job. “It’s a good group of people.”

The job is an exciting moment in the 2015 Luverne High School graduate’s life, as it’s her first in what she plans in a career devoted to helping others. That’s been a huge motivation behind her decision to pursue a law enforcement career in the first place.

“I wanted to work with people,” she said. “I like helping solve people’s problems.”

Stearns took the first step to becoming a police officer by earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. She then attended the law enforcement program at Alexandria Technical and Community College. She completed her skills training at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in summer 2018.

According to Worthington Police Capt. Kevin Flynn, the department looks to hire who it believes to be the best from its pool of candidates. Stearns is no exception.

“Madison did a solid job during the (hiring) process and we’re looking forward to her being a member of our team,” he said, adding that she’s familiar with the Worthington area.

The daughter of Minnesota State Trooper Jeff Stearns, Madison Stearns said it was her dad that initially got her interested in a law enforcement career. She also interned at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension predatory crimes department.

“That solidified what I wanted to do,” she said.

To become acclimated with the department and the area before hitting the streets solo, Stearns’ training regimen includes a rotation between four Worthington police officers, which is customary to the department’s mandatory field-training program for its new officers.

Worthington police officer Jake Walker, who is one of Stearns’ field trainers, said that rotation allows new hires an opportunity to be exposed to different policing styles.

“(Officers) do the same job, but everybody does it a little bit different,” Walker said. “She can use what we each show her to develop her own style.”

Stearns said the opportunity the department affords its officers to “be who you want to be” is what made the WPD stand out to her as she underwent her job search process.

The training process has shed light on aspects of the job that she hadn’t expected. She’s been particularly surprised by the large spectrum of calls for service.

“The scope of what the job entails is more than what I thought,” she said.  

It’s true that the new hire adds to the department’s diversity, as she joins a police patrol force previously consisting of all men.

According to Walker, there are situations where community members the department serves identify feeling more comfortable discussing certain matters with a female. That’s one scenario where Stearns will become a particular asset.

“She’s a top candidate and a good fit for the department,” he added.  

Still within her initial training program, Stearns already has her sights on undergoing more specialized training in the future. She identified wanting to earn Drug Recognition Expert and Critical Intervention Team certifications.

“I want to develop skills and become a more well-rounded officer,” she said.