Officer Josh Pirkola has been on the retail beat at the Riverdale Village Center for just over two years.
"Theft is our number one reported crime here in Coon Rapids so being able to be up here and be on top of it and know the people that are going to be calling 911 really helps build that trust," Officer Josh Pirkola said.
After morning roll call, Officer Pirkola comes to this new Riverdale police substation, a space donated by CentreCorp which took over management of Riverdale Village two years ago. In between paperwork and calls, he helps train store managers, loss prevention officers and employees.
"We also do risk assessment in the businesses so we talk about cameras, we talk about what to expect when you call the police," Pirkola said.
Senior property manager Ryan Burke says the police presence in Riverdale is valuable with around one million square feet of retail space. But the relationships that have come from this partnership are priceless.
"They have appreciated the space and we have appreciated their presence and it’s really come together and tied the knot for a great relationship," Burke said.
The police department recently assigned a second officer along with a police detective to their retail crime prevention team. And it's paying off. Earlier this month, both officers from the unit were assisting on a traffic stop when they noticed clothing with the tags still on. It was determined the items had been taken in a shoplifting incident in Riverdale.
"We’re just really excited to have a proactive management group up here," Captain Bill Steiner said. "We believe, much like CentreCorp does, that a thriving retail market in Coon Rapids is vitally important."
As new businesses open in Riverdale, officers will continue to make the rounds to make sure both would-be thieves and store employees know the police department isn't too far away.
"That really just helps facilitate that conversation of, you know, what can we do to help because we want businesses to stay and we want people to feel safe, and we want customers to feel safe," Pirkola said.