By TYLER ELLYSON
DENVER – With more than 1,500 sworn officers, the Denver Police Department is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the Rocky Mountains region.
The department serves a city with approximately 700,000 residents – roughly 20 times the size of Kearney.
That’s where Josie Minor wants to work.
“I’m definitely prepared for that,” said Minor, who graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in July with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Five years ago, the thought of becoming a police officer hadn’t crossed her mind. The Lincoln native was a pre-medical student when she first enrolled at UNK.
That was before a general studies course on terrorism changed the direction of her academic and professional careers.
“I really liked the class,” said Minor, who switched her minor to criminal justice after completing the course. “As I got into more classes, I realized this is something I truly enjoy. It really interested me.”
Minor eventually became a criminal justice major, completing her classes on campus before moving to the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, in May. She finished her degree requirements this summer by interning with the Denver Police Department.
“That was very eye-opening for me,” Minor said of her internship. “I got to see a lot of different aspects of the department.”
On the administrative side, Minor worked in the Shared Leadership for Institutional Diversity and Equity (SLIDE) Bureau, which focuses on enhancing equity within the department and community. She was part of a team that developed a report on racial and gender diversity within the department and identified ways to improve the hiring process.
With the ongoing calls for police reform, Minor said it’s “definitely a start” to further diversify the department.
“This report will help lead us in the right direction,” she said.
In addition to her work with the SLIDE Bureau, Minor was also assigned to the Traffic Investigations Unit, which investigates hit-and-run, serious bodily injury and fatal accidents. She assisted the public by answering phone calls and working the front desk and had the opportunity to shadow officers and detectives in the field. This included trips to accident scenes and the morgue.
“It was definitely an experience that helped me decide where I can fit in within criminal justice,” said Minor, who hopes to be hired by the Denver Police Department as a police officer recruit.
That position starts with an annual pay of nearly $59,000, according to 2020 figures shared online, with academy graduates receiving a salary of more than $63,000. The department’s pay structure allows officers to make nearly $95,000 annually after completing just three years of service.
Long-term, Minor would like to advance to homicide or traffic investigations.
“Being an officer is a great first step for me to get where I want to go,” she said.