BECKER -- While he has no plans to retire, the police chief in Becker is celebrating a 30-year career in law enforcement.

Brent Baloun has spent three decades in central Minnesota law enforcement, starting in Crosby, with stops in St. Cloud and the last 15 years in Becker.

The Brainerd native stumbled into criminal justice during his second year at St. Cloud State University.

“After that first year, I realized there's going to have to be some changes. I was injured in wrestling, which allowed me to focus more on school, and decided to go into criminal justice. I had some friends going into law enforcement and stuff like that. So I thought, you know, that sounds very interesting. I'm going to try that and loved it. I found it fascinating and interesting and met some pretty decent people. And before you know it, I'm interning with the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office before my senior year, planning to go to skills training after graduation over at Alex Tech to learn the hands-on aspect of things.”

After three years in Crosby, MN, Baloun found himself in the St. Cloud Police Department starting in the patrol division, followed by posts in the school division and then as a Seargent in Criminal Investigation.

“St. Cloud was an awesome experience for me, not only for what was going on but at the same time, the opportunities they presented to me with training with the FBI and the FBI National Academy and the National Fire Academy. Because of the job I had, or positions, they allowed me to do that.”

Looking back over 30 years, Chief Baloun says his police department has always been willing to change with the times. Becker was one of the first departments in the area to research the use of body cameras. But the biggest change is in the public’s perception.

“When I grew up, there was a lot of support, and not to say there isn’t now, but it was just viewed so differently. And we've changed with the times. There are those that will say law enforcement hasn’t changed, and I'll say I disagree. Every time something has come up, we've changed. Body cameras are a good example of that. We've been willing to change, we've been willing to accept things just to make us better and more respectful and responsive to the needs of our communities.”

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When asked what he thought the greatest challenge in law enforcement is today, Chief Baloun says it's all about staffing.

“Becker is no different than a St. Cloud or a Minneapolis, there are not enough people going into the profession anymore. The day of the city of Becker having 150 applicants for just a part-time job has shrunk down to I'm lucky if I can get 10 applicants for a full-time job with full benefits. Becker's a more quiet community as a result, we have fewer opportunities for advancement. But it doesn't mean that we're not any less exciting. Officers in a smaller community have the opportunity to do a lot more because they're the only ones. They get to be the investigator, they get to be the crime scene investigator, they get to be the school cop, or whatever it is. You're kind of the jack of all trades,”


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