by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
Anyone entertaining the thought of a career in law enforcement must gird themselves for, what for most would be, an insurmountable process leading to a life of protecting and serving others. It will be a dedicated lifetime of intense learning and oftentimes self-sacrifice.
“Candidates for job openings in law enforcement will spend thousands of hours in preparation and training,” said Rockford’s Chief of Public Safety, Dave Jones.
Consider if you will, the requirements that have to be met before one is hired on board by any law enforcement agency, to wit as follows:
Candidates are demanded to be people of strong moral character with a felony free criminal history.
One must exhibit a physical fitness level sufficiently high enough to pass a physical agility test. This is not a test to be taken for granted. It must be prepared for!
One must possess a 2-year Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from an accredited school. Certain academic pre-requisites have to be met prior to acceptance into such a program.
Upon graduation one must pass a licensing test administered by the Michigan Commission On Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).
After all this, one’s journey to employment with a law enforcement agency has just begun. Candidate’s names are placed on an MCOLES hiring list used by law enforcement agencies in seeking prospective employees. At any given time, this list may contain upwards of 300 qualified candidates. We said it was daunting, right?!
“Due to job availability in the current economic climate, less than 10% are fortunate enough to be hired on by any given law enforcement agency,” said Chief Jones.
In seeking to add new part-time Public Safety Officers to Rockford’s current staff, Chief Jones, in a close working relationship with the coordinator of GRCC’s Criminal Justice Program, has been able to identify and hire two recent graduates of GRCC’s Police Academy. “These two outstanding gentlemen are the ‘cream of the crop’, the very best they (GRCC) had to offer,” said Chief Jones.
So it was with great pride that a beaming Chief Jones presented Officers Steven Ritzenhein and Travis Schippers to Rockford City Council at Monday evening’s February meeting. Both newly hired officers were sworn-in individually with proud friends and family members watching on in the Council Chamber audience.
With a strong family background in public safety, both new hires bring much to the table. Officer Schippers is also a Paramedic and a Fire Fighter. Officer Ritzenhein is a certified Medical First-Responder.
Even so, the careers of both rookie Officers have only just begun. They will now undergo a field-training program of 150-200 hrs. under the mentorship of a current Rockford Public Safety Officer.
Rockford is in the forefront of combined Public Safety Departments (Police, Fire, and Public Works). Nationwide, these cutting-edge combined Public Safety Departments have been dictated by the economies of scale they bring to the table. Both of the new Officers talents will be put to the test as they, in time, will be cross-trained to assist in other areas.
The Rockford Squire and its readers welcome these fine individuals to Rockford, a city committed to providing the highest level of services possible to its residents and business owners.