In a matter of a few months, three new officers will be patrolling the streets for the Ottumwa Police Department. Steven Lee and Shane Mounlavong are originally from Ottumwa, Eric Orr is from Pella. All three were sworn into the OPD on Monday and they each share a common goal as they begin their careers for the Ottumwa Police -- to protect and serve the community.
"Kind of wanted to give back to the community, help clean up the streets, if possible," said Mounlavong. "Really help people and do whatever I can."
"I mean, just helping the community, just giving back to the community that raised me and got me on my feet and going," said Lee. "I look forward to it, it's a great town. The relationship between the police department and the city itself seems great and I just look forward to doing what I can to protect and serve this community."
Orr said he comes from a history of law enforcement; his father is a police officer in Pella and learned the benefits of the job from him.
"I saw him get to work with people," he said. "It's good to help people solve problems, work with the public. It just seemed pretty exciting and something that I wanted to do and so I started in law enforcement and found that it was a pretty rewarding career."
This week was full of training and an introduction to the Ottumwa Police Department's manual and policies. After this week, Lee and Mounlavong will head to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy on Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. Orr, who is already a certified peace officer, will begin with the 15-week PTO training program, where he will ride along and train with a current OPD officer.
The first few weeks are the toughest, but the OPD is ready to help them ease into their new roles in the Ottumwa community.
"Not knowing exactly what's going to be expected of them, exactly what they're going to be doing," said Sergeant Chad Farrington, of the Ottumwa Police Department. "Once they start the academy, those stressors will subside and they'll start going with the flow and it will be a lot easier for them. Same with the PTO program, they get nervous because it is unknown, they don't want to mess up, they realize they're still on a probationary period, but once they start the program and start that learning process, they'll do just fine."
Sergeant Farrington said the OPD looks for candidates with honest and integrity, as well as a welcoming personality, when they're hiring new officers.