MANKATO, Minn. -- There's an unusual sight in Mankato: everyday citizens behind the wheel of some police squad cars.
Ryan Muehe is one of those citizens. He spends a few mornings as a volunteer for the Mankato Police Department moving cars. He turns heads every time he does.
"I get people double looking at me just because they see a young teen, a young adult I guess, driving a police car down the road," he said.
Muehe is a sophomore at Minnesota State University-Mankato. He's studying law enforcement and hasn't earned his badge yet but he's allowed to drive squad cars to the city garage for maintenance thanks to a new volunteer program by Mankato Police.
Matt Westermayer is the Deputy Director of Public Safety for Mankato. Currently the city has 50 full-time police officers. He said the program helps the department save time and money.
"The officers are tied up with call loads. They're daily routines and having them shuttle vehicles back and forth is not good use of their time," Westermayer said.
Several weeks ago his department put out a call for people like Muehe. The 20-year-old is the first of about a dozen people who've stepped up to answer the call. Muehe said some of his law enforcement classmates have signed up, too.
Two and half weeks after his first day of volunteering, he said this brings him one step closer to being a real officer.
"I'm getting to know officers, commanders and staff. I'm also getting a feel of the city and how the department works," he said.
The use of volunteers saves the department roughly $20 an hour. All volunteers must pass a background check and undergo training.