Filling Police Force is a Challenge in These Times

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Trying to find people willing to pursue a career in law enforcement is not an easy task in this day in age. "You have to look at, you know, the past three years," said Sergeant Paul Parizek, Public Information Officer for the Des Moines Police Department. "Law enforcement nationwide has taken a hit. There was a lot of negative press. There`s been a lot of negative situations, you know, none of it here, but you know what happens in Ferguson, Missouri and what happens in Baltimore, those things definitely have an impact, because people hear that," said Sgt. Parizek.

And then you look at the tragedies that did happen locally. "You have to stop and think for a second, you know, if you`re a mature family person, and you`ve got a wife or a husband, or you`ve got children that depend on you, and you know, we`ve had three Officers killed this year, just in our agency. Some people stop and think, is that a risk that I really want to take? Is that something I want to put my family through?" said Sgt. Parizek.

And finding folks who are qualified and meet all of the requirements is tough in these times. "The culture`s changed a lot, you know, I`m 48 years old. It wasn`t hard to find people who hadn`t used marijuana in a three year period," said Sgt. Parizek, describing the changing world. You almost have to be squeaky clean and even spotless to meet the Department's high standards. Consider the policy on tattoos: "Our tattoo policy is that if you have exposed ink on your skin, it has to be covered up," said Sgt. Parizek. But Sgt. Parizek says the DMPD is not looking for perfection, just quality. “Everybody’s got some sort of skeleton, big or small in their closet, but what we look for is maturity. We look for people who are gonna do the job with integrity, and people that are going to serve and represent the organization well," said Parizek.

"A lot of times, you know, you are taking a chance, because you just never know. I mean, we look at Teut and Judge. There was absolutely nothing, nothing in their employment history, nothing in their personal lives that would indicate that that was gonna happen. There was nothing there to even give us the slightest idea that that was a risk we were taking. I mean you could have knocked us over with a feather when that happened. Things like that give you pause, where you step back and say whoa, we need to go back and look, did we miss something? No, we didn’t miss anything. There’s gonna be outliers and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it," said Sgt. Parizek.

And then there's the private sector, which is difficult to compete with. "You go to the private sector and you`re guaranteed you`re going to be warm in the winter, you`re going to be cool in the summer, and you`re going to be inside where it`s safe. You come on with us, you`re going to be standing outside at three o`clock in the morning when it`s 20 (degrees) below (zero). You`re going to be directing traffic when it`s 110 degrees, you know, and it may start raining ten minutes after that, so we can`t offer you the comfort of an office," said Sgt. Parizek.

“What we offer you though, is we’re going to give you a front row seat in life. You are going to see some very exciting things. You’re going to get to do some very interesting work and you’re going to get to do something that’s very rewarding as you move on. I think all of us here grow as individuals when we start seeing that what we’re giving, we’re getting back," said Sgt. Parizek.