by BETH ALTENA
Things have changed in funding for the Michigan State Police (MSP) over the years, and this year’s recruit class, at just 35 new troopers, is a far cry from the 100-plus new recruits when Rockford Post Commander F/Lt. Chris McIntire was in training. He recalls hating the water rescue part of the class where he had to swim through a foul-smelling waste of a swamp and wrestle to safety a “victim” who was anything but cooperative. Some years later, new trooper to the Michigan State Police Rockford post Matthew J. Demny described the water rescue as his least-favorite part of training as well.
Demny began work as one of our local boys in blue on Monday, May 16, joining the 23 troopers who daily do what they can to keep the public safe. The water training is part of a 20-week intensive course of skills law enforcement officers may need in the course of any day—defensive tactics, high-speed driving, marksmanship, and more.
McIntire said water rescue would be the responsibility of a trooper should a situation requiring one arise, although it may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of a road patrol officer’s job. “Sure, if you are drowning, we’ll save you.”
McIntire said the paramilithat Grand Rapids is the second largest city in the state with a wide range of diversity. Prior to his years in the Army, Demny was a Berry County Deputy. He also holds a degree from Ferris State University. Prior to attending the MSP 20-week training course, he attended the Police Academy for the Barry County job. That course was 17 weeks, after which he had four days off before the 20-week MSP training. This means he’s been in training for 37 weeks nearly non-stop and only had the weekend off before starting work Monday morning.
Married to wife Katie, the couple are thrilled to be in the Rockford area. They are familiar with the town because Katie’s sister used to teach at Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church. “What’s not to like?” he asked about what he enjoys about the town.
Demny also couldn’t be more pleased landing a job as a trooper in a time of few new hires in the Michigan State Police.
“It’s always been a passion of mine since I was a little kid,” he said of his career with MSP. “I’ve had a lot of positive interaction with troopers,” he said. One example was when the family car hit a deer when he was a youngster. He said an MSP trooper showed up within minutes to help and was very professional, second to none. “It really set a precedent in my life,” he said.
Advice to others who are interested in a career in law enforcement include keeping grades up and “be involved in extracurricular activities, sports or in whatever interests you.”
“Start a club for whatever you are interested in,” he said. Also, the obvious: “Keep your nose clean and keep out of any unauthorized activity,” he stated.
He also urged kids to continue to pursue a higher level of education and to always challenge themselves.
Like McIntire, Demny is philosophical about the unpleasant training, specifically the water rescue both disliked so much. “In Michigan you are never more than six miles from a body of water.” Trained in the winter, his was different from his new boss’ experience. “We cut ice in a lake and had to go in and experience the cold,” he described. “It better prepares you for real-life experiences. The chance of a water rescue is very likely.”
Demny refused to be goaded into commenting whether one branch of law enforcement is better than another. “We work side by side. It’s one team and one fight. If we take an approach that we’re better than other law enforcement, that would be a disservice. The color of the uniform doesn’t matter. Whether it is the city, the county or the state, we are all road patrol officers.”