Sheriff’s office adds two young deputies
Two new deputies have joined the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The two deputies are recent college graduates and neither of them had to travel far to start their law enforcement careers. Jacob Riley, 22, hails from Burlington and Justin Smith, 23, grew up in Mount Pleasant.
Both men have known they wanted to be deputies for many years. Smith began thinking about a career in law enforcement in middle school. By the time he graduated high school, he had decided to major in criminal justice once he entered college.
Smith obtained an associate of arts degree at Kirkwood Community College and later his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Mount Mercy University. When he was sworn in as a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Monday, Smith became the first person in his family to don a law enforcement uniform.
Riley was not the first person in his family to wear the badge. His father was a reserve officer for the Burlington Police Department. Riley remembers vividly the time he tried on his dad’s police belt at the age of 7. The youngster has wanted to be just like his dad ever since.
“Everyone tries to decide what they want to do and they change their minds,” he said. “I was stubborn. I wanted to be in law enforcement ever since I was little.”
The Burlington-native followed his dream to Western Illinois University where he obtained a degree in law enforcement.
Neither deputy said he worries about the dangers inherent in their occupation.
“For a police officer, you have to have the mentality you’re going to go home safe at night,” Riley said. “As an officer, I’m not going to worry about the dangers. When you worry about the dangers, that’s when you start to get emotional and things don’t go your way.”
Smith said he was confident that his training will help him deal with stressful or dangerous situations so they turn out fine in the end.
Riley and Smith had occasion to do a few internships before they left college, and they agreed the experience opened their eyes to real world policing more than anything they had seen or heard in the classroom.
Smith interned with the Linn County Sheriff’s Department and the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
“I went out on the streets with an actual officer,” he said. “I got to see the calls they responded to.”
Riley said he learned a valuable lesson on his internship with the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Department, which was to always keep his cool.
“You have to play Joe Cool so the suspect thinks you’re on his side and you understand why he did it, and you can get answers from him,” he said. “You can’t lose your head or your temper, because people will test you.”
Riley remembers being on a call with an officer who responded to a woman complaining of a person driving through her yard. Riley said the woman wanted to kill the person driving the car. He was surprised at how well the officer was able to stay on an even keel while talking to the woman.
“Anyone can go through a book and understand what they’re doing, but it’s not the same experience as going out there in a [squad] car,” he said.
The next step for Smith and Riley is to go on ride-alongs with other deputies until January when they both go to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Des Moines. They will stay in dormitories from Monday-Friday and come home on the weekends during the 13-week course.
Upon returning from the academy, the two rookies will be shadowed by fellow deputies, who will watch them work to ensure they’re following procedure. Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton said Smith and Riley will be on their own by springtime.
Riley said his recent interview in Fairfield was the first time he had ever set foot in the town. Smith said he had been to Fairfield a few times for sporting events in high school but was still becoming acquainted with the amenities it had to offer. Both deputies said they are excited to start their job.