Jessica Flores, a patrol officer with the Palmer Police Department, as been on the job for 10 months. She shared her experiences to date for this week’s Behind the Badge segment. The Daily Light continues its weekly “Behind the Badge” series, to be published each Sunday, in an effort to get to know the officers that serve and protect us on a daily basis. Our goal is to help the community learn more about the people behind the badge.

So your relatively new to policing. How and why did you get into law enforcement?

It all started in high school when I joined the Police Explorers program at my high school in Los Fresnos. I knew when I came out of the Explorers program that I wanted to be a patrol officer. Being a patrol officer lets me interact more with the community. You get to know everyone in the community, and you can stop and visit with those you serve. So far, it’s been a great experience.

What is the community’s reaction to seeing you during your patrols?

I think they’re happy to see us. We get to stop and visit with the kids, talk to parents and visit schools. So I think we’re very involved in the community and doing a lot of community policing.

One thing that makes Ellis County unique is the fact that it has two interstates running from one end of the county to the other. These are high speed, high volume roadways. What’s the difference in patrolling the rural Palmer area versus working on Interstate 45?

It’s different in the fact that there are people from all over that travel IH-45. I’ve had traffic stops with people from the United Kingdom and Italy, and it’s a little bit different in how you interact with those folks. I think in their home countries, their interactions with police typically means something bad has happened. We’re here simply to help. Maybe it’s a broken tail light or a headlight that’s out. We’ll stop them just to let them know that they need to get it fixed, and send them on their way. It’s just a matter of showing them respect, and letting them know we’re there to serve.

What’s it like to patrol in a small community like Palmer?

I like the smaller community atmosphere. You get to know the people on a first name basis, and in turn, they get to know us. Because we’re a smaller community, they have a little more confidence in us because they see us every day. They’re more willing to come and talk to us.

How many officers are on Palmer’s police force?

We have six officers. We’re a pretty tight knit group. We know each other and understand what our expectations and capabilities are, so it’s easier for us to work as a unit. We’re a pretty quiet community, but there was a fatality motorcycle accident on IH-45 recently, which was really tough, because we’re not accustomed to dealing with that. While certainly tragic, it was a learning experience for us.

The community is very supportive of us. We’ll have people stop by or come up to us on patrol and tell us we stand behind you, and that always helps us to know that we’re doing our jobs right.

If you were to talk to a group of high school kids wanting to go into law enforcement, what would you tell them about policing here in Palmer?

I would tell them it’s a great community, and a perfect opportunity to get started in law enforcement. Our department is very close, much like a family, and I think just knowing everyone in a small community is such a benefit, both for us on the police force, but for the community, too. Don’t let the negativity in the media discourage them. I would absolutely tell them to go for it.