By Ralph Echtinaw
St. Louis resident Greg Kolhoff, 51, already a lieutenant with the St. Louis Area Fire Department, began a full-time job with St. Louis police Tuesday.
Kolhoff started his law enforcement career as a reserve officer with the SLPD in the mid 1990s after serving in the Marine Corps. After completing the police academy, he worked part time for the SLPD and the Gratiot County Sheriff’s Office in the late 1990s. For the last ten years he worked full-time with the Clare Police Department.
Kolhoff will fill one of two vacancies in the SLPD’s mid-shift as a secondary car. For now he will work 10-hour shifts four days a week. However, a second mid-shift position is still vacant, so Kolhoff’s hours will vary until that position is filled. After that both mid-shift officers will work rotating 12-hour shifts seven days a week.
However, it’s a “slow process getting qualified applicants for the second slot,” Ramereiz said. “It’s hard.”
The state police have made Ramereiz’s job harder by changing its policy on new hires. “They opened up a lateral transfer (program) that is going to take a lot of candidates that most of us would have been looking at because they’re allowing you to bounce over there without going through the full Michigan State Police Academy. An officer like me, I would be able to go into this do a crash course for a couple weeks, and then you’re in.”
Ramereiz told city councilmen Tuesday that he will have high-school age interns starting in a few weeks and running throughout the school year.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he said. “We’ve had a few interns over the last few years. The guys really like having them in the office. Being able to bounce around with the officers on the road and the office staff. And doing administrative things trying to give them as good of a picture of what we do as possible.”
The interns come from the Gratiot-Isabella Technical Education Center, where they are enrolled in the Criminal Justice Career Technical Education course.
Their teacher is retired Lansing police captain Eric Eichenberg who supervises 26 students from multiple school districts in Gratiot and Isabella counties.
The course comprises two classes. In the morning class, first-year students get an introduction to criminal justice covering police, courts and corrections. In the afternoon class, second year students dive deeper into the investigation side of criminal justice.
First-year students do a one-time ride along with area police officers. Second-year students get more first-hand experience like Ramereiz talked about Tuesday. It entails one day a week when the students visit a police department to observe the duties of law enforcement instead of reporting to the classroom. They stay with the same department for six weeks then rotate to another department.
In both classes, students are taught hands-on skills using the program’s patrol car (donated by the Alma PD) conducting traffic stops along with defensive tactics, handcuffing, firearm safety (with plastic mock guns), building searches, first aid/CPR, crime scene processing and other patrol functions.
Students take field trips to area courts and agencies to see all aspects of the criminal justice field and conduct a mock trial. They also hear guest speakers from the criminal justice field.
Students get college credit from participating colleges and universities, which helps them get criminal justice degrees after high school.
“This partnership with the various area departments is also a great recruiting tool for those agencies to hire future employees,” Eichenberg said. “I have had students from the past couple years who now work at area sheriff offices in the corrections field. Overall it is an experience for those interested in a career in criminal justice to get some knowledge and skills to pursue that career.”