By Joe Whalen
Jared Kuka, a 1997 graduate of Havre High School, locked up his bid to become a member of the Havre Police Department Monday night at the City Council meeting.
After council president Helen Hill, who lives next door to the Kuka family, delivered a stirring testimonial on his behalf, Kuka, 22, received unanimous approval as a probationary police officer. A graduate of Jamestown College in North Dakota with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, Kuka will begin his one-year probationary term with a 12-week training session at the police academy in Helena on Jan. 6.
"I couldn't ask for anything better," Kuka said after the meeting. "Helen Hill motioned for the approval, and I've known Helen as a next-door neighbor since I was born. This job is going to get me in the end to where I want to be, whether I retire from the Havre department in 30 years down the road or from somewhere else. But this is where I want to be right now, as far as from a career standpoint."
A former two-sport varsity athlete at Havre High and a four-year center fielder for the Jamestown Jimmies, Kuka said his interest in law enforcement began in his sophomore year in high school when he took a law-related education class taught at Havre High by Police Chief Kevin Olson. After graduating from college in May, Kuka worked for six months as a corrections officer at the North Dakota state prison in Jamestown.
"We're happy to have Jared as part of our police department," Olson said. "It's extremely gratifying to know that a member of the Havre community who has ambitions of being a police officer pursues that lifelong ambition by going to college and obtaining his degree in criminal justice and then returning to his community to fulfill that dream."
Several of Kuka's family members attended the meeting, including his parents, Jim and Cheryl Kuka, and his grandparents, Lyle and Ann Knudson.
"It will be an education for him opening your eyes to the real world, you might say," Jim Kuka, a lineman for Montana Power Co., said of Jared, his only son and the first Kuka family member to establish a career in law enforcement. "We're very proud of him."