Top Cop: Minnesota’s Public Safety Commissioner
For the past four-plus years, this 1998 Metropolitan State graduate has claimed one of the state’s top public-trust posts—Minnesota’s Public Safety Commissioner.
At the time of her appointment in 2011, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that “Dohman’s passion and faith in justice have led her to blaze some trails. In every law enforcement position she has held, Dohman’s been the first woman—as an officer in two small-town police departments; in the Maple Grove Police Department, where she worked as police chief for the last 10 years; and now as the Minnesota Department of Public Safety commissioner.”
She prioritizes overseeing a $600 million budget, 2,100 employees and 14 divisions, including Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), Minnesota State Patrol, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Dohman, who was named 2015 Alumna of the Year, credits Metropolitan State for stoking her career. Her university diploma, a self-designed degree in criminal justice administration, is on a wall plaque near the U.S. and Minnesota state flags that flank her desk. A nearby table showcases a photo of her and her husband’s three kids (now adults), and a surprising artifact.
“Mother Teresa is one of my role models,”Dohman says, nodding to a large silver peace symbol. “I never got to meet her, but she embodied peace and that’s what I pray and work for every day.”
She grew up poor in tiny Vesta in southwestern Minnesota. Instilled with a strong work ethic, Dohman and five siblings occasionally earned money by picking rocks, detasseling corn and other chores. Higher education was a moot point, as there wasn’t money to pay for college. Dohman also harbored serious doubt about whether she was college material.
But she took a chance and enrolled at Metropolitan State in 1989 while serving as a Maple Grove police officer. Dohman was drawn to the university’s prior learning credits, accommodating schedule and the ability to design her own academic program.
She applauds Metropolitan State for valuing people’s uniqueness and differences and regularly refers prospective students to the university. “I never felt like I paid money (for education) or that I wasn’t getting something in return,” she said. “In fact, I would have paid more, because the experience was that good.”