Archive for Friday, May 15, 2015

In honor of National Police Week, local law enforcement members share their career experiences

Lawrence law enforcement members who shared their career experiences as part of a question-and-answer session with the Journal-World.

Lawrence law enforcement members who shared their career experiences as part of a question-and-answer session with the Journal-World.

May 15, 2015

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National Police Week culminated Friday in Peace Officers Memorial Day, designated by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 to recognize law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. In honor of the occasion and to get a glimpse into the lives of the people behind the badges, the Journal-World conducted a question and answer session with some of the officers who serve and protect the Lawrence community.


Lawrence Police Department


Detective Amy Price

serving the LPD for 20 years

Detective Amy Price, Lawrence Police Department

Detective Amy Price, Lawrence Police Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

My parents were influential in my career choice from an early age. My dad was a medic in the Army as a young man and later worked the rest of his life as a minister and family counselor. My mom taught school for 30 years and now volunteers with Hospice. As a child, my parents said, “You can be whatever you want to be.” As a teenager, my dad added a caveat: “Don’t just write jingles for deodorant commercials.”

What keeps you coming into work each day?

The opportunity to positively impact an investigation or situation, as all circumstances requiring police intervention are negative.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

The most rewarding experiences are those where there is every indication that every person involved in an incident or investigation learned from the experience and, hopefully, history will not repeat itself.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

The most challenging thing is working within the criminal justice system. It was created by human beings; therefore, it is and always will be imperfect.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

It is difficult to discuss horrifying, devastating, embarrassing, life-altering or life-ending events with people day in and day out. It is hard for me to leave my daily experiences at work, even if I make a cognizant effort to do so. I know it takes a toll on my family, but I try hard to keep it all balanced.


Sgt. Myrone Grady

serving the LPD for 13 years

Sgt. Myrone Grady, Lawrence Police Department

Sgt. Myrone Grady, Lawrence Police Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

I had a new family and needed to find a career. I used to coach (collegiate) football and needed to use my education and get a real job. I was looking to find something where I could serve the community and try to make a difference. I have a cousin, Victor Webb, who is currently a captain with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department. He was someone who I always looked up to and I thought it would be good to try and follow his trail. I never grew up thinking this would happen but I’m glad I took a chance; it has been very rewarding and fulfilling.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

It is a noble profession that not everyone can do or wants to do. There is a lot that goes on in this town and we are on the front line in the arena. We are dealing with it daily, so members of this community can feel safe and secure. I go to work every day for my family, my wife and three kids. It shows them the commitment I have, the dedication that is required and the selflessness needed to be a true public servant.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

Probably my time served as a school resource officer at South Middle School and Lawrence High School. I was able to really establish some relationships with a lot of kiddos and adults in the community. They were able to get to know a cop on a personal level and learn that I am a regular guy. It was really cool to be able to mentor students and help guide several of them through some difficult stages in their lives. I was named the Kansas SRO of the year in 2011 and Lynn Harrod, the SMS assistant principal, is a mentor for me and a lifelong friend who I never would have met if not placed in that position. Also, being promoted to the rank of sergeant was a pretty big deal to me. I was able to show my kids that through hard work and dedication that you can accomplish your goals; seeing them happy and proud of me was awesome!

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

The fire on New Jersey Street where five people lost their lives. I was a young officer at the time and that was the first time I had to deal with something of that magnitude. I had to be treated for smoke inhalation, as there was a group of us in the back of the residence attempting to perform life-saving measures on two occupants of the home. At that time, my kids were ages 1 and 3, and so were two of the kids that perished in the fire. That was tough. It was an eye-opening experience and the first time I realized that this job could be dangerous.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

Probably a better question for my wife! I have missed countless birthdays, school events, holidays and cookouts over the last 13 years. When I was on midnight shift, it was probably a little worse, as I was tired and cranky all the time. Now, as a supervisor, I work at minimum 12-hour days, leaving my house before 6 a.m. to return shortly before 6 p.m. I don't complain, though. I love going to work every day with the fine women and men on this police force. I don't think people realize how hard their police department works for them, but that's OK. We just keep going. If not us, then who?


Officer David Garcia

serving the LPD for four years

Officer David Garcia, Lawrence Police Department

Officer David Garcia, Lawrence Police Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

I first became interested in law enforcement when I was 14 years old, after I did a ride-along with a local officer from my hometown. I come from a Hispanic family and a predominantly Hispanic community, where many people fear or dislike law enforcement. I became inspired to become a police officer to be a positive influence and bridge the gap between my community and police.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

I currently work as a juvenile investigator and enjoy being able to help children who have been victims of crime. Those victims are completely innocent and are at times placed in dark places in our society by people they often trust the most in their lives. I assist them out of their dark place and help bring justice to their perpetrators. I work alongside some of the very best detectives and officers in the field and enjoy learning from them each day. My supervision at the Lawrence Police Department also makes it an enjoyable and good work environment to be in.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

As a juvenile investigator, I am often in a child victim's life for an extended period of time through the investigation and later court proceedings. It is rewarding to see those victims go from being very frightened at the initial contact to seeing them have a sense of relief and comfort when justice is served, and knowing I helped that victim get to a better place.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

The current negative climate nationally, which has been perpetuated by the media and some politicians, concerning law enforcement officers has been one of the most difficult things to deal with as an officer. Many people are sometimes rude and disrespectful to police officers but have no idea the sacrifice the officers make to keep the community safe.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

The common sacrifices that all law enforcement officers deal with are working long hours, including overtime, and missing time with family. However, I knew this would be part of the job when I signed up and continue to make those sacrifices with pride. I was also injured on duty in 2011 by a suspect and required knee surgery and several months of physical therapy. Lastly, as a law enforcement officer, I feel that I have sacrificed the ability to see the good in all people and instead often see things in a jaded or skeptical light since I often times see the very worst in people while I am working.


Officer Tina Shambaugh

serving the LPD for 19 years

Officer Tina Shambaugh, Lawrence Police Department

Officer Tina Shambaugh, Lawrence Police Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

I never had a defining moment where I suddenly realized I wanted to be a police officer. I just knew law enforcement was my career path, even as a little kid. During high school I tinkered with the idea of other careers, but I always came back to knowing I wanted to work in law enforcement.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

The excitement and challenges knowing that every day will be different from the one before is what keeps me coming back. No two days are ever the same and you can never predict how the shift will go. As soon as you think you know, it will do just the opposite. The camaraderie we build as officers and the support we give one another is unlike most professions. Nothing replaces the sense of knowing that those who share the uniform have your back.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

My experiences as a Neighborhood Resource Officer with the department were extremely rewarding. I enjoyed talking with the public in situations that were not the result of a stressful incident or tragedy. The meetings and presentations I attended gave me the opportunity to answer questions and talk freely with members of our community. Situations like that allow the public to see that we share the same concerns for having a safe and prosperous community for our families to live in.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

I think one of the most challenging experiences as an officer is not letting the negativity of the situations we have to deal with bring me down. It can be difficult after leaving a high-stress call or disturbing incident to relax, especially at the end of the shift. I think it is also important to maintain a distinction between work and my personal time away from work. This includes keeping friends outside of my police family to keep me well rounded and share their views on situations with me.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

There are negatives with every job and I believe the shift work and long hours, including working holidays, weekends and nights, is just one of them. I don't really look at those things as sacrifices, but just part of the job.


Officer Sutagee Anglin

serving the LPD for 11 years

Officer Sutagee Anglin, Lawrence Police Department

Officer Sutagee Anglin, Lawrence Police Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

My college education was toward being a high school teacher and coach. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that my life’s path changed and I needed to find a career immediately. A previous coach of mine suggested law enforcement, claiming I had the right “temperament” for it. I applied and was lucky enough to get hired.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

Regarding the Training Unit, knowing that I will have a direct effect on recruits that the department will hire and then be able to help train them so they can become the best law enforcement officers for the city of Lawrence.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

I was able to participate in a program where the LPD helped coach seventh-grade football. The kids I got to coach learned that I was an officer and it didn’t matter to them. I still have kids who are now juniors, seniors or have already graduated and they will still call me “coach,” even when I’ve been in uniform.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

In May 2007, I was injured on duty when a truck hit me from behind. I had to go to the hospital by ambulance and was then admitted to the emergency room, where they kept me overnight. My wife came to the hospital and I could see the fear and concern in her eyes. It solidified in my mind that me doing this particular line of work affected my family more than I had realized.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

My family has had to sacrifice more so than someone who works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. I’ve had to miss holidays, school recitals and concerts, ball games, etc., because of my work schedule. However, I’ve been very lucky to have a supportive family who smiles at me and tells me it’s OK when I’ve had to leave a function early, even though I know it has bothered them.


Officer Mike Cobb

serving the LPD for nine years

School Resource Officer Mike Cobb, Lawrence Police Department

School Resource Officer Mike Cobb, Lawrence Police Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

I chose to become a law enforcement officer because I grew up watching my dad, who was a police officer for more than 30 years, and I thought police work would be exciting.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

As a school resource officer, my primary job is to protect the students of our schools. As a parent of two young children, I want all kids to feel safe while trying to learn. I come to work every day to make sure the students can focus on their education and not worry about safety.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

I have been given the opportunity to coach seventh-grade youth football and high school football during my career with the LPD. The greatest reward for me is to witness how much after-school activities can impact youth in a positive way. One of my favorite things is to run into former players and parents and catch up with them.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

In general, any calls dealing with hurt children are the most difficult, especially now that I am a parent.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

All officers sacrifice time with family, work long hours and endure tough times. Our officers push through and continue to work hard for each other and the community regardless of the sacrifice.


Kansas University Public Safety Office


Officer Damon Tucker

serving the KU PSO for 14 years

Officer Damon Tucker, Kansas University Public Safety Office

Officer Damon Tucker, Kansas University Public Safety Office

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

I grew up in a rough neighborhood and knew the importance to having good law enforcement. After experiencing the “need” for good officers and maturing, I realized that my desire was to serve the public and be a positive image for law enforcement was my calling.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

I really enjoy that on a person’s worst day — imagine an accident or a bar fight — that when we show up, we are the calming voice in a chaotic situation and know what to do to help.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

I enjoy seeing kids' eyes light up when they see the uniform and the face of a victim when justice has been served on someone that wronged them.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

Each day has different challenges. I enjoy that I do not sit at a desk each day and every day is a surprise. With each day being different, we have to assume lots of responsibility and liability, which makes us a target for ridicule and criticism.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

There are a lot of sacrifices made with this job; we will all miss family events, sleep through holidays and are late for our children’s sports games. Fortunately for me, my faith and family are extremely supportive. Without them I would not be able to focus on my job and remain safe to continue providing for my family.


Officer Natalie Nguyen

serving the KU PSO for three years

Officer Natalie Nguyen, Kansas University Public Safety Office

Officer Natalie Nguyen, Kansas University Public Safety Office

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

When I was growing up, one of my childhood friend’s father was a police officer. He would come to the schools to speak to the students about his job and that sparked my interest in law enforcement. In college, I was able to take classes that related to the criminal justice field (law, investigations, etc.) and saw that law enforcement was still a significant interest of mine. Also, growing up I always liked to help people, so being able to do that as a police officer is rewarding.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

What keeps me coming into work each day is being able to interact with the public, help them, and seeing the diversity that KU campus has to offer. Also, being able to interact with my co-workers who share the same interests as me.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

The most rewarding experience I have had so far is being able to see the people that I have helped during their difficult times succeed and do better for themselves.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

One of the most difficult things I faced when I first became an officer was not getting used to a routine at work. Each day has difference situations, different calls, different people and it all has its own set of uniqueness to it.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

In terms of sacrifices when it comes to being a police officer, I knew about the long and odd hours, the possibility of not being able to go on family vacations and events. I have a very supportive family and friends who are always there for me and are very understanding.


Officer Todd Carpenter

serving the KU PSO for 10 years

Officer Todd Carpenter, Kansas University Public Safety Office

Officer Todd Carpenter, Kansas University Public Safety Office

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

When I was 14 years old, I attended a presentation by my local police department. The Quincy, Ill., police offer a student police program called “police explorers.” I was able to train with their staff at the range, investigate mock crime scenes, and train with their canine unit. From my experiences with the explorer group and seeing all the different opportunities I could have, I decided to pursue a degree in criminal justice and a career in law enforcement.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

Each day is different. You never know what to expect, what you are going to do or with whom you will interact. We collaborate with people from all facets of life — young children such as those at Hill Top Daycare, college students of all ages and families, as well. Everyone I encounter — some have made bad choices or have had bad things done to them — I try to influence in a positive way.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

Being thanked by someone for my service is the most rewarding part of my career. Sometime back I had a young lady who had lost her keys on the bus. She had extreme panic attacks and was unable to think clearly and was having difficulty breathing. I talked to her, got her calmed down and helped her find her keys. Days later, she wrote a thank you card telling me how nice it was that I treated her like a person and not just a call. Often, police get a bad reputation because we are perceived as just taking calls and everyone is a nuisance when, in fact, we don’t do that and we do our best to treat people how we want to be treated each and every time.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

A difficult experience I have had has been as a member of my department’s honor guard and attending numerous law enforcement funerals in the area. I never imagined the emotions I would experience while attending another officer’s funeral and seeing the faces of the family and friends, knowing that they will never see their loved one again. Each day I go to work and it has the potential to be my last. I would be leaving my family and my friends behind. A challenging aspect has been interacting with people who have made bad choices. I know that they have the potential to do better, but for whatever reason they don’t. Trying to help them when sometimes they don’t want help or don’t know how to accept it can be frustrating.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

There have been plenty of times where I have had to either stay late to complete reports or have had to come in on my days off to work special events. The KU Public Safety Office has full staff present at major sports events on campus and many other highly populated events including move-in and graduation. Some of those events have led me to miss my son’s soccer games and other family activities. If it were not for my wife and family’s understanding, it would be extremely difficult to come in and serve my community knowing that my family was upset with me serving my community.


Douglas County Sheriff’s Office


Deputy Mike Folks

serving the sheriff's office for six years

Deputy Mike Folks, Douglas County Sheriff's Department

Deputy Mike Folks, Douglas County Sheriff's Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

I got into law enforcement after spending 10 years working in the (less than truckload) freight industry. I had reached a point in my career in which to continue to move upward, I would have to be open to relocation. I wanted to work in a capacity to help the community in which I lived and was raised.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

I enjoy meeting and contacting new people every day. Each day provides a new opportunity to provide members of the community resolutions to problems and concerns they may be having at the time.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

Overall, the most rewarding experience is interacting with the citizens of Douglas County and making sure each person I speak with knows how much I appreciate the opportunity to serve in their community.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

The most challenging experience I have had is walking the line between my career and my home life. There have been stretches of a day or two when I won't see a whole lot of my family. A lot of this is eased by an amazing support system both at work and at home.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

Time away from family has been a big sacrifice. As the father of three boys, I would love to share every soccer game, school play, holiday or any other special event in which they participate. Unfortunately it's not feasible to share all of these experiences with them. I take advantage of each opportunity I am able to share these moments with my wife and sons.


Sgt. Phillip Mathis

serving the sheriff's office for seven years

Sgt. Philip Mathis, Douglas County Sheriff's Department

Sgt. Philip Mathis, Douglas County Sheriff's Department

Why did you choose to become a law enforcement officer?

I felt I had the required commitment and integrity to carry out the job. I initially went to college for architecture, but after getting into law enforcement, I felt it was a calling. After all, this job isn’t for everyone. This is a career where you must deal with diversity, possess patience and tolerance, perform well in stressful conditions, adapt to your environment and exhibit leadership. With these traits, I feel I make an impact on my community.

What keeps you coming into work each day?

I look forward to the diversity of everyday occurrences. Law enforcement work is some of the most varied out there. One day you could be doing paperwork or testifying, but the next you are out on the street, investigating a crime and making an arrest. Even specific jobs within the Sheriff’s Office have many different facets. Deputies could be directing traffic one day, catching speeders another or recovering a stolen car the third. There is hardly a dull moment as a law enforcement officer, and for each of the quiet times, there are ample high-adrenaline moments.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as an officer?

The most gratifying experience of my profession is the distinctive chance I have to show people an honorable way of life. A very tough aspect of my job is that I often meet people when they are at their worst. People involved in substance abuse, thieves, spousal abusers and people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the kinds of people I deal with on an everyday basis. I find that, if treated kindly and respectfully, people will listen to what I have to say. For what it’s worth, what I say and how I treat people plays a huge role in helping them make better choices in the future.

What has been the most difficult or challenging experience you have had as an officer?

I experienced many rewarding challenges as a field training officer. I was tasked with formulating learning opportunities for new deputies that met or exceeded the training needs of the Sheriff’s Office and the expectations of the community. I had to foster the trainee’s growing independence from direct supervision over the course of the program. I had to produce graduates of the training program who were capable of providing community-focused services with integrity. All while maintaining fair and consistent evaluations that addressed the trainee’s skills, knowledge, and ability to problem solve effectively.

What sacrifices have you made to keep our community safe?

A law enforcement officer makes many sacrifices throughout their career; to include the ultimate sacrifice. I’ve witnessed firsthand as a member of the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard what impact that sacrifice makes on the family and co-workers of the fallen. Therefore, I tip my hat to our families as they go through a lot of the sacrifice, for this job, along with us. I’ve put in the long hours, holidays and events away from family, seeing things most can’t imagine and dealing with the stress of split second decisions that the community critiques. I’ve been asked before, “That is a thankless job, why on earth would you want to do it?” I set these sacrifices aside and feel blessed to be a law enforcement officer. There are no “thank yous” necessary when you know inside you’re making a difference in your community.

Comments

Michelle Fales 2 years, 6 months ago

What a nice article about some of our community's finest. I appreciate the sacrifices you all make to ensure Lawrence, KU and Douglas County are safe. Thank you.

Jake Davis 2 years, 6 months ago

Blessed are the peace keepers... In the first 4 1/2 months of this year, we have lost 45 police officers, about 10 a month. Where is the outrage? Where is Obama? Where are the protests? It sickens me that society takes each of these officers' and our soldiers' lives for granted but yet are so quick to protest a criminals death. What has our society come to...

Chad Steele 2 years, 6 months ago

13 of the 45 deaths are car/ motorcycle accidents and 11 were heart attacks. That is outrageous Obama should tell everyone to wear their seatbelt and exercise. That will go over great.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, why weren't you out there protesting their deaths??? Why weren't white groups organizing demonstrations? Why wasn't Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity or Mike Huckabee speaking in outrage at the scene and calling for change? Hmmm.

BTW, the Kansas trooper who died? He had a heart attack. We're supposed to be outraged by heart attacks...why??? And, as an aside, while Obama was in Kansas, he did mention the loss of Officer Mike Kern. Oh gee, darn.

If you truly want to know what our society has come to, how about you look in the mirror while you complain and blame others, and do nothing yourself to make things better.

Jake Davis 2 years, 6 months ago

You are correct Chad... Read the reports..these officers died pursuing criminals at high speeds, trying to get to that emergency call as fast as they could, and dying on the side of highways and streets because motorists DO NOT MOVE OVER.

Yes, they have died of heart attacks due to the continuous stress they live with on a daily basis, the highs and lows of adrenaline rushes, the toll of seeing the worse side of human beings, the damaged children, the drugged parents, the worst of society.

Thanks for driving home my points!!

Jeff Barclay 2 years, 6 months ago

My late father was a policeman. Our youngest son is a police officer. Hats off to all who serve their fellow citizens through law enforcement. You are appreciated and in our prayers. So are your families.

Tanner Stumbaugh 2 years, 6 months ago

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR GREAT, SELFLESS SERVICE! THANKS FOR MAKING LAWRENCE A SAFER PLACE, DAY BY DAY!

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