Police Week originated Oct. 1, 1961, and is observed annually to pay tribute to local, state and federal law enforcement officers who are dedicated to serve and protect. This year Police Week is May 10 – 16.
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy was authorized to designate May 15 as a formal memorial holiday to honor peace officers that have died or been disabled in the line of duty.
“I wanted to be a police officer for as long as I can remember,” said officer Kim Juarez, with the Shenandoah Police Department. “It wasn’t something I spoke about much when I was younger, but it was always in the back of my mind.”
Juarez grew up and graduated from Essex. Shortly after graduation, she moved back to Colorado, where she had been born.
Juarez worked in Government Security for the Department of Energy for many years and said she decided to become an Officer after the events of 9-11. After going through the Police Academy in Colorado in 2001, she worked for the Northglenn Police Department and Lafayette Police Department, both north of Denver.
“I can’t say that one specific event made me decide to become a Police Officer,” said Jaurez. “I feel that it was several events over the course of my life that helped me make my decision. The most significant of those events being 9-11.”
Juarez said what happened during 9-11 and how they impacted lives moved her to want to make a difference. She said becoming an officer is one way she was able to contribute.
Problem-solving is a crucial component of an officer’s job and one that Juarez enjoys.
“That’s pretty much what we do every day,” said Juarez, “solve problems. I love doing what I do. The job is never routine. You really never know when you go to work what’s going to happen, and that is the exciting part.”
Juarez said she works with a great group of officers both locally as well as in nearby counties.
Juarez moved back to the Midwest and joined the Shenandoah Police Department as a Reserve Officer in 2015 and was hired full time in 2017.
“I think the toughest part of being a police officer is that more than likely, when we respond to situations, it’s generally when people are experiencing one of their worst days,” said Juarez. “We’re faced with all kinds of human misery and even for the toughest officers, if you have a beating heart, it’s going to get to you sometimes.”
Juarez said officers find themselves in a lot of different situations. She said throughout her career, she has encountered life-threatening situations.
“I credit my lack of ever being seriously harmed to my training, incredible co-workers, and the grace of God,” said Juarez.
Juarez said the toughest calls for her to handle are those that involve at-risk children or children who have been harmed.
“Those are tough,” said Juarez. “It’s all of our jobs to protect the innocent, and yet sometimes bad things still happen.”
Juarez said a large part of being an officer is helping others.
“We can mentor our youth,” said Juarez, “get involved with our community, and help solve issues in ways that work for everyone involved. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being there and talking to someone when they really need it the most.”
Juarez finds her job gratifying when she can make a difference in someone’s life.
“The most gratifying experiences I’ve had on the job are the few times I’ve been able to help someone make the decision that their life is worth living,” said Jaurez. “Just knowing that you can help someone and hopefully get them the help they need is an opportunity that you don’t see in many other professions.”
Juarez describes it as bittersweet that life can get that tough.
“It’s also precious in that whatever you said to that person to make them rethink that decision is something they will probably never forget,” said Juarez. “I’ve always felt that mental health care is a huge responsibility and wonder at times if it will ever get the attention it truly needs.”
Juarez said patience plays a vital role in her line of work.
“The one thing I’ve learned from being a police officer over the years is that you really never have ‘seen it all’ because that could change daily,” said Juarez. “And due to this fact, I have learned patience. Without it, I couldn’t do this job.”
Juarez said separating work and home life in a smaller community becomes a little more difficult, but she still feels that home is home and work is work.
“Sometimes work has to come before home and sometimes home has to come before work,” said Juarez. “You just have to figure out a good balance for your particular situation. It’s easy when you first get started to eat, sleep, and breathe the job. It’s easy to forget what’s important, so a good balance is very necessary, not only for your own health but that of your families as well.”
Juarez said her family is her inspiration.
“All of my wonderful family, kids, and grandkids are what keeps me going,” said Juarez. “I’ve been blessed with amazing family and they are truly what keeps me grounded and happy.”
Juarez said the training involved in becoming a police officer varies from state to state. She said it involves months of training and obtaining certifications regardless of the state.
“I would tell anyone interested in law enforcement to definitely consider it,” said Juarez.
She suggests anyone interested in law enforcement inquire about doing a ride-along and says a reserve officer position is an excellent place to start.
“I think life experience is an important element in being a successful officer,” said Juarez. “So I would say don’t rush into a quick decision to get started right away. Have a good understanding of what you’re getting into, and if you do decide it’s the right path, make sure you’re ready for the commitment.”
Juarez said she looks at the big picture when it comes to her career in law enforcement.
“Being an officer is a very important and responsible job,” said Juarez. “We have a unique opportunity to show everyone we deal with a better way. Every ticket we write, every incident of domestic violence we investigate, every fight we end, every arrest we make could have saved countless lives that we won’t ever know about. I guess the goal is really to try to make a positive impact on someone’s life, and at the end of the day, if you can do that, you’ve succeeded.”