Becky Benson is well known in Moose Lake. She was literally an officer on the street, visiting businesses and talking to people.
"Because I spent so much time with the public, I knew that they would approach me when they needed to tell me something," she said in a recent interview. "People don't like to call 911."
However, on a personal level, Becky only had every third weekend off and worked shift work. She left the Moose Lake Police Department on December 6 to take a position as a special investigator at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, located in Moose Lake.
"I'll be working straight days and have every weekend off," Becky said. "My mother is really happy that I'm off the streets."
Becky grew up in Mathtowa and worked as a scanning coordinator and accountant at the Moose Lake IGA. But the business closed and Becky became a displaced worker.
She qualified for retraining, and she attended Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to earn her degree in law enforcement.
"The Dislocated Worker's Program paid for my books, tuition and transportation," said Becky.
After completing her law enforcement training, Becky worked in the jail for the Carlton County Sheriff's Office on an on-call, part-time basis.
She took a full-time position in Itasca County and worked part-time for a security service while in that area.
However, Becky was able to return to her home area when a full-time position as a police officer opened up in Moose Lake. She has been with the department for eight years.
"I was fortunate to land that full-time police job close to home," she recalled. "Dale Heaton was the police chief. I've worked under the current police chief, Bryce Bogenholm, for three years."
Becky said that she enjoyed her years with the Moose Lake Police Department. She got to know people and knew the layout of the community well.
"I think community policing is the way to go," she said. "I knew basement escape routes in the businesses. If there was ever a situation, I knew the layout.
"Because we are such a small community, you have to be in touch with people."
Besides responding to emergencies and making traffic stops, Becky has been asked to speak to groups of young people.
"When I was asked, I would go and talk to the Girl Scouts and to community events to talk to children," said Becky. "I have spoken at Little Bs in Barnum. I let them know that we are there to help."
Becky has been called by parents of children who are headed down the wrong path.
"I've been called by some parents to scare their kids," she said. "I go and talk to them but I always turn it into a positive. I am really like a social worker but that's what is needed in a small town. Sometimes that's all that is needed."
As much as she enjoyed being a police officer, Becky knew that she had to make a job change at this time in her life to reach personal goals.
"I want to have more time with my family and my grandchild," she said. "My priorities in life have changed a little bit, this new position will better accommodate my life."
Becky said that her daughter and toddler grandson, Kylea and her son, Aiden, live in Moose Lake, and she sees them often. Kylea has followed in her mother's footsteps and has a degree in criminology. She is employed at the Department of Corrections, Moose Lake.
Becky said that she already misses the people that she used to see on a daily basis, and she misses the camaraderie with her fellow officers.
"I think that we worked well together," she said. "We got to know each other well and knew each other's families."
Becky is looking forward to spending more time with her family. Her and her husband, Jim, enjoy pheasant hunting in the Ortonville area in southwestern Minnesota. She has picked up polished chunks of granite there, and has made them into cutting boards for cheese, candle holders and wall hangings. Her craft items are on display at Joe Jitter's Coffeehouse, and have been selling well.
She also owns a travel trailer and keeps it at her mother's cabin in Wisconsin, where she spends a lot of time in the summer. Gardening is another one of Becky's interests.
Becky is looking to the future.
"I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life with new people and new challenges," she said. "I will always keep a positive attitude. Life's too short not to."