Local law enforcement departments have struggled to fill positions recently, but an influx of new hires will provide needed support, and new hires expect their previous experiences to give them a boost.
The St. Joseph Police Department has four recruits attending Missouri Western State University Law Enforcement Academy, while the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office has one.
For Kyle Anderson, it’s not just a career change, it’s setting an example for his children.
“It would be a great role model and positive work for your kids to watch them grow up seeing you doing this kind of work,” he said.
Anderson and Lexy Nicholson are two of four academy cadets who will become SJPD officers upon graduation. Ron Auxier and Ben Wilson will also be employed at the SJPD after completing the 900-hour academy training. Robert Bergman will go to work as a sheriff’s deputy after graduation.
Nicholson’s previous experience is as a victim advocate. It inspired Nicholson to continue her career path and evolve into a position where she can serve on the streets and serve as a role model for others, she said.
“When I was a victims’ advocate, there (were) a lot of victims who automatically, from the start, (were) so grateful to the officers who came to help them,” she said. “And as a victims’ rights advocate, I helped them on the court side, but I wanted to get out there and be there to help them when they absolutely needed it…the first encounter.”
Although she doesn’t have a position she hopes to work within the department, Nicholson admitted to gravitating towards the field she is familiar with.
“I find myself, kind of, leaning more towards the family side, the kid side of things because that’s something I know about,” she said. “But I wouldn’t mind stretching out and doing it all.”
Davidson joins the academy after four years as a local corrections officer. As a resident of St. Joseph, it’s an advantage to already have knowledge of the area, he said.
“I know the streets very well,” he said. “I think I have a much closer connection with the community, knowing what they want to hear, what they want to know, keeping the community safer, of course.”
Bergman had another transition, moving to the Quincy, Illinois area. Although he expects it will take him some time to adapt to the region, his experience in the military reserves creates a social advantage when he interacts with other members of the department, Bergman said. .
“I’m able to walk into a room and not really know anything about the police and be able to carry on an hour-long conversation about all the good, bad, and goofy things that, you know, two people did in the military” , did he declare. .
Cadets also agree that it is beneficial to have classmates they know who stay in the area, as it helps maintain existing relationships.