Law enforcement student says her community service officer role with Willmar PD provides insights for eventual career

Community service officers such as Rachel Mork in the Willmar Police Department learn on the job from veteran officers while also playing an important role handling lesser offenses, parking tickets or animal complaints, for example. Mork expects to graduate in 2021 from Ridgewater College with a two-year law enforcement degree.

Rachel Mork
Rachel Mork is a community service officer for the Willmar Police Department and a current Ridgewater student

WILLMAR — The role of community service officers in local police departments is an important one. They support officers by providing help for lesser offenses such as parking tickets and animal complaints, for example, or by directing traffic during car accidents.

For Willmar Police Department community service officer Rachel Mork, her job is a stepping stone to eventually becoming a police officer. It's a job she saw firsthand as a child watching her father in his role as an officer in Ortonville, where she’s from.

Mork said she’s been learning a lot from the officers in Willmar who have served as mentors during her time there.

“I just like being able to get the experience of interacting with the public and driving a squad and being able to help the officers with whatever they need and get the insights of what else I'll be doing,” Mork said.

Mork is attending Ridgewater College to obtain a two-year law enforcement degree. She expects to graduate in the spring of 2021 and is planning to take her skills testing at Alexandria Technical and Community College.


After passing skills testing, which includes defensive, driving and firearm training, Mork will be able to apply for Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, a requirement to become a police officer in Minnesota.

Recently, she received a $1,000 scholarship from the Wear the Badge program, which is produced by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, a nonprofit organization representing chief law enforcement officers across the state.

Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt had high praise for Mork, saying he was proud of her for getting that scholarship.

“She does a great job with our department and truly is a good representative for women getting into law enforcement and for our agency,” Felt said. “When we've had public events, Rachel is always one that's that's there and helping out and greets people with a smile.”

Though the job can be difficult — animal complaints and parking tickets don’t always bring the best out in people — Mork is able to mediate situations when things become heated.

“Rachel’s not a pushover but she’s very diplomatic on how she does things,” Felt said. “We’re happy to have her here.”

Law enforcement during COVID-19

Mork's job duties didn't change that much when the pandemic hit Minnesota, besides the department not enforcing a city ordinance for overtime parking.

"We felt that while everyone was being told to stay home, it wouldn't be right to still require them to move their vehicles every 48 hours," Mork said.


Working as a community service officer requires a lot of contact with the public, and the pandemic has added some extra steps to Mork's daily routine — maintaining social distancing guidelines, using hand sanitizer and wiping down squad cars. while still maintaining the same level of service for the public.

"While it's in the back of your mind, it doesn't really change per se how we would operate," Mork said.

There hasn't been any specific training Mork has gone through that's prepared her how to work safely in a pandemic, something she would like to see added to future law enforcement training.

"You kind of just train as you go, kind of make up the rules as you go," Mork said. "Making sure you're changing out your uniform regularly and making sure you're wiping down anything like shared desks spaces or phones."

To complicate the effects of the pandemic, Mork lives with her significant other in a small apartment where they don't have a lot of room to quarantine if one of them gets sick.

"We've talked about that and it is stressful to potentially bring that home and not knowing how it affects different people differently," Mork said. "You know, it's stressful to think about."

While Mork said she has enjoyed her time in Willmar, she’s open to going where the job is, though she might try to get a job closer to Ortonville after becoming certified.

For now, Mork said she’s been focusing on work and school but during non-pandemic times, she enjoys hunting and trapshooting, having been on her high school and now Ridgewater’s team, and is hoping to be able to return to that next season.


“In the fall, I've always gone hunting. It's always been my thing,” Mork said.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at
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