Protecting and Serving My Community

by | Oct 1, 2014 | On a Personal Note

Guest Written by Drew Latch, RPD Public Information Officer
I have lived in Russellville for twelve years. The small town feel with the midsize town amenities has made my decision to stay and raise a family here a better choice every day. I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I graduated from Little Rock Catholic High School in 2002. I relocated to Russellville in the fall of 2002, enrolling in Arkansas Tech University. In December 2007 I graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in emergency administration management. I grew to love Russellville while I was attending college, and welcomed the opportunity to stay and start a family here. I married my wife, Elizabeth, in 2007 and she wanted to make Russellville our home, too. We welcomed our first child, Collins, in 2012. She is now two, and I am happy to know she is being raised in a safe and thriving community. It is a great feeling to know that one day I can let her play in the front yard without worrying (too much) about her safety.
Shortly after graduating from Arkansas Tech, I became a realtor with River Valley Realty.  I enjoyed this career path for several years, and continue to keep my licenses active. Even though I was happy working in real estate my heart was pulling me somewhere else.
I had wanted to be a police officer for most of my life, and always had an interest in law enforcement. After six months of begging my wife, I applied with the Russellville Police Department.  I joined the department in 2009 as a patrol officer.  I valued being a patrol officer.  Like most officers at the department, the best feeling was going home at the end of the day knowing something you did was instrumental in making the community safer. I loved the experience of being able to help people in need. My favorite part of being on patrol was talking to children, and helping them become more comfortable around police. I was, and still am, known as the worst ticket writer on the force. I always joke that instead of writing tickets I would talk to people and joke around with them.  The department realized after two years that my job needed to be altered. The public information officer position opened in our department, and it was the perfect fit for me.
The public information officer is a job that puts you in direct contact with the public on a day-to-day basis. I have always enjoyed talking to people, and helping them understand that our department would not succeed without the support of our community. Early in the position, I realized the core of my job was to help bridge the gap between the community and police department. This department is full of officers that have grown up in the River Valley, and are raising families in this community. We, as a department, have as much at stake as the community does at keeping Russellville safe. The hardest part of my job is being able to listen and read criticism of our department. I have matured in the fact that I can listen to the criticism and learn from it. I know that as a department there is always room for improvement.
I have spent the past several years building a youth academy that is held twice a year in the summer. The youth academy is great opportunity for our officers to build relationships on trust and friendships with the youth of our community. I also hold the annual Citizen’s Police Academy each year.  The Citizens Police Academy reaches out to people in the community who are influential or highly involved in the community.  The program allows the attendees to see behind the scenes of the police department.  We want to continue to be a transparent department, and this program further pushes that agenda.
I am pleased to have been blessed with my family and career.  I enjoy going to work every day, and love knowing I can influence somebody’s day in a good way. Knowing that one day my little girl will grow up in this community drives me even more to make this a safer community than what it already is. I read an article the other day that stated that Russellville was the eighth safest city in the state of Arkansas. The only thing that went through my head is “why are we not number one?”

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