April 5, 2023 at 7:23 p.m.
Oetterer to work full-time with SCPD
The Sauk Centre Police Department has a new full-time officer joining their ranks: Preston Oetterer, who has been working part-time for the SCPD for about a year and whose experience covers Osakis, Long Prairie and other areas of Todd County. As he prepares to transition his focus to Sauk Centre, he is looking forward to working with area schools and making connections with students and their families.
Oetterer was raised in Finlayson in eastern Minnesota and graduated from East Central High School in Finlayson in 2018. When he was still in high school, he was inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement through a ride-along with a local deputy, during which they saw some action.
“It was exciting, and I knew afterward that was what I wanted to do,” Oetterer said. “I wanted to do something different and make a name for myself.”
Oetterer’s father also works in corrections as a lieutenant, so Oetterer had family connections to the profession.
By earning college credits in high school, Oetterer was able to receive his associate’s degree in law enforcement from the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet in 2019, a year after his high school graduation. He was first hired by the Todd County Sheriff’s Office in April 2020; after four months, he started working part-time for the Long Prairie Police Department and then the Osakis Police Department. By March 2021, he had a full-time position on the OPD, and in July 2022, he resigned so he could work full-time with the LPPD. Oetterer will continue to be working full-time with the LPPD until May 1; then, he will be part-time with the LPPD and full-time with the SCPD.
Oetterer’s first few months in law enforcement was a time where the public opinion of police took a hit. However, Oetterer stayed positive in the line of duty.
“It was more about bringing a positive outlook to the table,” Oetterer said. “I was still appreciated around here for the most part.”
Oetterer’s career arc has taken him to larger towns along its course – from Finlayson with its approximate population of 300 to Osakis with 1,800 and Long Prairie with 3,500, and now Sauk Centre with 4,500.
“The more I’ve been doing the job, I want bigger and better,” Oetterer said. “I think (Sauk Centre) is the fit for me. It’s got a small-town feel, but it’s a bigger town, which is a nice opportunity.”
Serving in Sauk Centre, one of Oetterer’s main roles will be working as a School Resource Officer. He already has experience through working with the Osakis School District, and he will also soon be attending a week-long SRO course in Fargo, North Dakota. He is also a DARE instructor, an education program that teaches students to resist involvement in drugs, gangs and violence. He recently graduated 170 students from the course at the schools in Long Prairie.
“To my understanding, I’ll be continuing DARE here as well,” Oetterer said.
So far, he finds the connections he makes to be one of the most rewarding parts of being a police officer.
“Every time I’m out doing the regular job – stopping cars and responding to calls – I’m seeing my DARE students,” Oetterer said. “They say hi to me, they give me high fives, they thank me for doing DARE and stuff. … It’s made my job much easier up there because the parents will look at me and be like, ‘My kid really likes you, I respect that.’ If I can come down here and do the same thing, great.”