LFP Officer Spotlight - Sgt. Maurice (Red) Parrish encourages citizen ride alongs
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.
What made you want to get into law enforcement?
My family has had a long public service and military background and it was a career area that interested me due to the variety of contacts and calls for service.
What type of work did you do before entering law enforcement?
I was a member of the Washington Air National Guard as well as being in retail sales and retail loss prevention.
How long have you been in law enforcement?
Over 28 years, starting my career in 1995.
What types of hobbies and/or interests do you have?
I enjoy working on my older home as well as collecting refurbishing vintage axes and crosscut saws.
LFP is lucky to have you, why did you choose our city to work in?
I started at another police department near Bellevue but the commute was a real problem as well as a lack of activity while working for the department. I had a peer at LFP that recruited me into LFP and with the increased variety of calls for service, it seemed like a better place to work. The less than 10 minute commute from home to work was a bonus!
What types of challenges do you face on the job?
The primary challenge I see if complacency. We can be lulled into "It never/rarely happens here" which leads to slower responses and thinking. A further challenge is working through the rapidly changing case law, between local, state, federal circuit and US Supreme Court rulings. Additional challenges include seeing repeat offenders not availing themselves of programs to get out of the use and abuse cycles, increasing behavioral health situations with a lack of bed space in facilities and of course, maintaining safe staffing levels for patrol operations.
Has your job become harder or more challenging over the years?
While the career hasn't necessarily become harder, the challenges are increasing, especially compared to when I joined policing in Washington State in 1995. The greatest challenge has been an increasingly permissive attitude in local society towards criminal acts by both citizens as well as politicians, which has led to increases in criminal activity across the board. The "wash, rinse, repeat" aspect of local policing or seeing the same offenders repeatedly challenges myself and my peers.
Are there additional resources or training that you wish were available?
I appreciate that the Chief through LFPPD is committed to ensuring officers have all the training they need and can get, so long as the budget supports that. What I would wish for is that there is a continuing demand from our citizen to ensure financial resources and budgets are in place, both through the state as well as through the city, to ensure that LFPPD officers will continue to receive the needed training both in good years and in financially lean years. Unfortunately, it is an industry issue that when things are not good financially for the cities, counties and in the state, training is often the first thing that is cut in budgets and that is to the detriment of the officers and the citizens they work for.
What will it take for you to stay working in LFP?
I am approaching the end of a good career but I will be staying with the department a few more years to help shepherd the new generation of officers we are bringing forward. We want to see these newer officers receive needed support to continue the department mission.
Do you feel valued and respected in LFP?
I do, especially in recent years. I have 25 years here, which is a testament to the value and respect I have enjoyed in my position serving the citizens of LFP.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I would encourage citizens to stay involved in how policing occurs in LFP. Continued support of technologies like body worn cameras, ALPR, UAVs and continued support of our high departmental standards for training and accreditation goes a long way in retention of good officers and ensuring that LFP maintains high officer standards. I also encourage citizens to take a ride along with an officer. A ride along gives someone a great insight as to how things operate in a modern, accredited police department in this region.