LFP Officer Spotlight - Lieutenant Diego Zanella, Former Italian Special Forces Member


Lieutenant Diego Zanella, Lake Forest Park Police Department

At least 521 U.S. towns and cities with populations of 1,000 to 200,000 have had to disband their police departments between 1972 and 2017, according to a peer-reviewed 2022 paper by Rice University Professor of Economics Richard T. Boylan.

One open position in 2019 might have attracted 35 applicants, whereas these days, it might attract only two or three. The problem is an exodus from law enforcement nationwide.  Officer resignations were up 47% compared to 2019 - the year before the pandemic and the George Floyd tragedy, according to a survey of nearly 200 police agencies

While the author was interviewing LFP Police Chief Harden a while back, it happened to be the last day for one of our detectives, who was relocating to a more rural department with higher pay.

In addition to veteran officers leaving, young people are increasingly unwilling to go through months of training to become police officers, creating a shortage of officers nationwide. 

LFP Town Crier is contacting our officers to gain insight and let them know we appreciate them. 

First up is Lieutenant Diego Zanella: 

What made you want to get into law enforcement?

I know it can be seen as a cliché, but being an immigrant, I felt that it was time for me to give back to the community that welcomed me when I decided to emigrate to the U.S.

What type of work did you do before entering law enforcement?

I was an electrician.

How long have you been in law enforcement?

Oh boy...almost two decades!

What types of hobbies and/or interests do you have?

I like to exercise, go for long walks with my dog Lilli (a fluffy Bernedoodle), and travel with my wife.

LFP is lucky to have you; why did you choose our city to work in?

I wanted to work for a small department that focuses on community policing and has a great reputation. I knew the city because I live in North Seattle, and Lake Forest Park has always been one of my favorite places.

What types of challenges do you face on the job?

As the Division Commander who oversees the Support Services Units, I wear a lot of different hats, and I constantly multitask.

Has your job become more complex or more challenging over the years?

Yes, definitely the last four years were extremely challenging for everybody who works in our field.

Are there additional resources or training that you wish were available?

Although all our officers are CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) certified and they also attend additional specialized training every year, I would like to see more training that enhances the skills of patrol officers when they respond to crisis calls or calls where mentally ill people are involved.

What will it take for you to stay working in LFP?

I am extremely lucky to work for a very dedicated, hard working Chief of Police. The officers and their supervisors are also outstanding professionals, and our organization has a fantastic relationship with the community, the city council, and the Mayor. There is no reason for me to change city and work for a different police department.

Do you feel valued and respected in LFP?

Absolutely! Those are some of the reasons I love working in LFP!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I worked for the Italian Special Forces, and I used to jump from perfectly functioning airplanes and helicopters!

Thank you, Lieutenant Zanella, for speaking with us and your service. 

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