Katie Blackwell, of Champlin, recently returned from a week long trip to the United Kingdom with eleven of her classmates in the public safety administration graduate program at the Twin Cities Campus of Saint Mary’s University. In addition to schooling, Blackwell is also a sergeant for the Minneapolis Police Department.
The purpose of the trip was to get students out of their comfort zones and experience policing in another country. While there, the Saint Mary’s group met with people in all facets of the Northamptonshire Police department, from the lowest-ranking constables to Sir Hugh Orde, the United Kingdom’s highest-ranking law enforcement official. The trip was made possible through a partnership between Saint Mary’s University and the Northamptonshire Police.
“This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Blackwell, Saint Mary’s student and sergeant of the Minneapolis Police Department. “The valuable information I learned has changed me as a leader and challenged me to broaden my horizons and think of the bigger picture in every situation.”
Students enjoyed comparing law enforcement in the United States and the United Kingdom. For example, U.K. police officers (“bobbies”) generally do not carry weapons. Only a very small number of officers are allowed to carry weapons after undergoing extensive training. Students were also impressed with the level of information sharing and collaboration among agencies in the U.K.
“One of our teaching philosophies of Saint Mary’s is to give students opportunities to expand their perspectives of their chosen careers,” said Lora Setter, director of the public safety administration program at Saint Mary’s. “This was an important trip for the students in terms of their career development, as our program prepares students to lead and manage public safety organizations.”
Blackwell’s husband, Steven Blackwell, Chief Deputy of the Pine County Sheriff’s Office. was also a participant on the trip.