In the line of duty - Three new officers join the Mercer Island Police Dept.

By Wendy Giroux

The three newest police officers on the Island each made the leap into law enforcement from other, established careers.

The Mercer Island Police Department consists of 31 officers and administrators. Department leaders say they're excited about the new hires.

``Anna Ormsby, David Herzog and Ryan Parr each come to the department with life experience, big picture perspective and strong customer service,'' Cmdr. Ed Holmes said.

More changes are just around the corner.

Sgt. Paul Dowd, who has been with the department since 1974, is retiring in March, and another officer may leave in early summer for a career in law after taking the bar.

The two newest additions to the force, officers Ormsby and Herzog, have been on the road for several weeks, each training with an experienced officer. After graduating from the academy, each Mercer Island officer spends three months on the road with a series of field training officers before going solo.

Officer Ryan Parr started with the city in June and began patrolling by himself in September.

After an extensive career with several restaurant chains, Parr decided to take the tests to become an officer shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, which he said finally pushed him to make the decision.

``I spent about 20 years in the hospitality industry -- that hasn't changed, I just get to drive faster,'' he joked. ``We have a lot of customers in this business, too.''

Parr said he had considered the move to law enforcement for quite a few years but that he has two children and wanted to wait until they were a bit older and he was in a stable position.

``I had to take a big pay cut to do this job, but it was something I really wanted to do and something I think is worthwhile,'' he said.

Parr applied to five departments and interviewed with four.

``Mercer Island fit my criteria because I wanted a smaller department where I could get to know everybody in the department and the community,'' he said.

A smaller department also affords officers more opportunities to see cases through from start to finish, Parr said.

``I recently did an assault case that I was the responding officer for and ... got to follow it all the way to (filing) charges,'' he said.

In the short time he has been on the road, he has already had the chance to work on some interesting cases, including barricaded subjects, car thieves and assaults.

``I just love my job -- I hate to say that because it sounds a little bit fake, but every day, I'm excited to come to work,'' Parr said.

While he's interested in working on some of the department's specialty teams in the future, he said it's hard to look too far ahead because he wants to concentrate on learning as much as possible now.

OFFICER ORMSBY had been working as a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines.

``I was happy with what I had been doing but I wanted a challenge in my life,'' Ormsby said. ``(Now) I get to be home a little bit more and have a little bit more stability in my work schedule.''

She applied at six departments and interviewed with three.

``I had heard very good things about Mercer Island. I didn't want a huge department and I also wanted variety in my police work as my career goes by,'' Ormsby said. In particular, she hopes someday to have a chance to work with some of the department's specialized teams, such as the bicycle officers and Marine Patrol.

``I'm looking forward to meeting, first of all, all the people in the department and I'm looking forward to working in the community,'' she said. ``The community seems very receptive to law enforcement.''

``It's all pretty new to me, but I'm getting a feel for the Island and it's geography. ... It's a beautiful place to work.''

OFFICER HERZOG came to Mercer Island after serving in security forces for the Air Force from 2000 to 2004, stationed in Japan.

``Ever since high school, this is what I wanted to do,'' Herzog said. ``I thought by joining the Air Force in the specialty, I'd be able to get some training and get a feel for what it would be like.''

On day shift, he has worked car prowls, residential false alarms, harassment and mail theft cases, but the diversity will likely increase once he's switched to another shift.

``I'm still learning, but so far, it's been good,'' Herzog said. ``I really enjoy it. I like interacting with other people.''

He applied at several departments in the area because he has family in Bellevue he wanted to be near, and Mercer Island was the best fit.

``I definitely want to make a career out of this, and I would prefer to have my career be here,'' Herzog said.

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