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Police lieutenant looks back on career to inspire new recruits

Monday, November 28, 2022

Police lieutenant looks back on career to inspire new recruits

Image: Police lieutenant looks back on career to inspire new recruits

Ryan Douglas, Chippewa Valley Technical College Law Enforcement Academy graduate and Lieutenant of field operations for Chippewa Falls Police Department, stands in front of a squad from the department he has served for 20 years. He appreciates his career and is happy to inspire others coming into the field.

Ryan Douglas slid behind the wheel of the Chippewa Falls Police Department squad car and shifted the suspended laptop out of the way.

As a veteran of the police force, the lieutenant of field operations isn’t assigned an enforcement vehicle each day, but one is available in case he needs to help by taking to the streets of the city north of Eau Claire.

Douglas has 23 years of experience as a law enforcement officer in western Wisconsin. Although it may seem like just yesterday, he has a lot of knowledge to depart on students ready to graduate from Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Law Enforcement Academy – the same program he attended in 1999.

Humbly, Douglas wondered why new recruits would bother listening to someone in his 40s, but advice from people in the field helps new recruits, CVTC instructors say. So, Douglas put on his thinking cap and gave some observations.

“Looking back on my career, the things I think about are to keep an open mind with the changing environment,” he said. “Really understand and comprehend the public environment in your area.”

To truly gauge the situation, communication is key, he said. Because officers are always dealing with people who come from differing backgrounds.

“That’s one thing that was taught to me – communication skills, and if you don’t practice the skill, it’s perishable,” he said. “In my career I’ve really focused on communicating and relating to people. You have to care, and you have to be able to recognize where people are coming from.”

He said that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to actions, but it lets people know that law enforcement officers are human too, and they want to understand.

“Listening is equal or more important than communicating,” Douglas said. “I want them to understand that people make bad choices, but it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.”
And although the job is tough, the hours are long and the career doesn’t make people millionaires, Douglas said every so often there is a silver lining.

“We don’t do the job to hear the praise, but it happens once in a while,” he said.

Douglas talked about a situation when he was working in the drug unit. He helped arrest a young adult who was found with narcotics and lots of money at his parents’ house.

“We took his car, his drugs, his money and upended his life,” Douglas said. “I saw him a year later and he sought us out to say thanks. He was working and going to college. That’s one that was pretty heartfelt.”

As Douglas looks to the future, he’s happy to see people entering the field and flourishing like he has.

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