There are 286 city police departments in the state of Minnesota, along with two tribal police agencies and various other departments serving universities, airports, transit systems, and parks. Not every city has a police department; some contract with a neighboring city or their county sheriff’s department to provide law enforcement services within the incorporated area. As of 2012, only 39% of the cities in Minnesota had their own police department serving only their city, and most of these were cities with a population greater than 2,500 residents. In smaller cities, it is much more common to use the sheriff’s department, either with or without contracted services. Some of the police departments operate their own jail or detention facilities, especially in metropolitan areas, while others use the county jail. Although city police generally have jurisdiction only within the city limits and county sheriff’s department officers tend to limit their operations to unincorporated areas, many departments have a policy of mutual aid where they may operate within the other’s jurisdiction in times of need.
Minnesota law requires that all police officers be licensed by the state Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board. At one time, POST licensed part time officers, but those licenses now expire when the officer’s employment with the current department ends. The state is no longer issuing part time licenses. State law also requires that use of force and pursuit policies for each police department be submitted to and approved by the POST Board.
The largest police department in the state is the Minneapolis Police Department, which is seen as a national model for police procedures and community involvement. The MPD is currently working on implementing a body worn camera program for all of its patrol officers. In addition to patrol cars, the department uses motorcycles, horses, and bikes in an effort to provide more interaction between officers and the community.