By having a public safety department for the past 34 years where police and fire staff are combined, the city has substantial resources to deploy to keep the community safe. Facilities are positioned for optimal response times. Over the last 24 months, the city has worked closely with a local ambulance service to improve response by partnering to locate additional ambulance services in the former State Street fire station building, align emergency medical protocols and train with ambulance staff on response. The city has also deployed Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in all public safety vehicles (police and fire) with funding from Mayo Clinic Health System.

With the recent retirement of Mankato’s previous public safety director, city management took the opportunity to review all aspects of service delivery to even further deliberately unify safety services to best serve the community. Following a several month study and the internal appointment of Director of Public Safety Amy Vokal, additional leadership appointments–all internal–and expanded areas of service responsibility include:

Jeff Bengtson, Jeremy Clifton, Matt DuRose, Dan Schisel.
  • Jeremy Clifton, assistant director–operations including police patrol, fire suppression and emergency response
  • Matt DuRose, assistant director–strategic response includes investigations, hazard/threat planning, records and rental/license code enforcement
  • Jeff Bengtson, associate director–auxiliary services, community service officers, paid on-call firefighters and nuisance abatements
  • Dan Schisel, associate director–auxiliary services, community service officers, paid on-call firefighters and nuisance abatements
“Adjusting leadership structure to align with today’s service delivery challenges makes sense,” says City Manager Patrick Hentges. “It’s important to evolve for continuous improvement and continue with a vigilant emphasis on cross training. There is a lot of confidence in these internal appointments because their performance is a known commodity.”

People are the greatest departmental asset with around 150 public safety staff including police officers, firefighters, specialists, part-time staff, reserves, civilians and volunteers.

Director of Public Safety Amy Vokal says, “This is another important step in strengthening and solidifying public safety, which provides a positive return on investment in safety and dollars.”

Resources are generally co-located to save money, enhance service and provide best use of public tax dollars. In 2012, the former Law Enforcement Center was updated for reuse to bring police and fire staff together for the first time ever in one facility. It was the most significant investment in a city of Mankato public safety facility within the last 40 years.