by Enrico Villamaino

The Cass County Farm Bureau (CCFB) in Minnesota has designed a curriculum for police cadets to learn about livestock as well as the trucks and trailers used to transport them.

Training law enforcement how to deal with livestock

Seth and Rachell Connell of Brainerd, MN, shared their “Law Enforcement Education: Introduction to Livestock” curriculum at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual conference. Photo by Enrico Villamaino

“Law Enforcement Education: Introduction to Livestock” was first introduced in June 2021. Seth and Rachel Connell, both members of the local farm bureau, were concerned that local deputy sheriffs and highway patrolmen often had to respond to calls and interact with agricultural animals but did not have the training to readily know what to do in certain circumstances.

“It could be that cattle are loose on the highway,” said Rachel. “Or it could be how to best handle an accident scene involving livestock. There was a lot of practical knowledge that these officers needed to help them in these situations.” With the assistance of Rachel’s father, who works as a heavy equipment instructor at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN, she and Seth were able to organize an additional eight hours of content for that school’s local police academy. Agricultural professionals helped with instruction on handling the animals as well familiarizing the cadets with the various designs of trailer gate latches, which can be difficult to operate when under stress. Local veterinarians taught the recruits about animal body conditions to help them in times when they would have to determine whether an injured animal can be saved or should be humanely euthanized.

“There were about 20 students in that first session,” Seth explained. “And only one had any sort of relevant experience or agricultural background.” Despite the dearth of any history with husbandry amongst the police pupils, the feedback they received from the students was overwhelmingly positive. There are plans to not only repeat the class, but expand it.

In addition to teaching future police recruits, the Connells hope to make the curriculum available to officers already on the street as well as firefighters and EMS personnel and trainees. According to Rachel, “The more first responders we can educate, the less difficult we can make these situations, and the safer we can keep both people and animals.”

While the program’s expansion across Minnesota is already underway, the CCFB shared their program at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Atlanta, GA, so that it might be replicated in other states.

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