Patrol Officer Tim Gann joined the Sherman Police Department in February of 1999, following stints in Savoy and Bells as a reserve officer. He recalls his $7.30 per hour pay with a chuckle. Reserve officers were called “extreme volunteers” before it became a paid position in the 1980s.
Officer Gann discovered that his great-grandfather was a highway patrolman, a career choice that Gann had considered before joining the Sherman police force. He attended the Police Academy in the evenings from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m., completing 640 classroom hours. Passing the state exam completed his certification.
Every month, Gann participates in training sessions on new laws, firearm training, and state mandated instruction. For nine years, Officer Gann worked the night shift, plus weekends. Now, each day begins with a staff meeting with his boss, the sergeant. Oh yeah, and he's also a volunteer firefighter in Bells.
Officers of the law direct traffic, issue citations and arrest criminals. At the scene of accidents, patrol officers assess damage, assist injured motorists and assist other local law enforcement agencies. Departmental patrol officers respond to emergency calls about criminal violations.
In addition to these duties, a patrol officer might respond to other situations in which state and local enforcement need assistance, such as robberies, kidnappings, assaults, homicides and other incidents. Officers exercise independent judgment to make decisions at crime scenes. These job duties require patrol officers to be in good physical condition. To do his job well, Gann stays physically fit by eating healthy and staying active.
A quick-thinker with solid judgment, a successful patrol officer maintains composure and decision-making skills in high-stress situations. They are strong communicators who enjoy interacting with and protecting the public. Above all, they are ethical citizens, who place great value in upholding the law. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, the following skills are essential in being a good patrol officer:
1. Working knowledge of federal, state and city laws, statutes and ordinances
2. Knowledge of modern policing principles
3. Ability to keep accurate records
4. Ability to maintain positive relations with the general public
5. Physical ability to the use of equipment and weapons commonly used by law enforcement officers in conducting arrests and providing assistance
Once a year, Officer Gann meets with his supervisor for the annual review. He has been commended for his leadership skills and for taking good care of his equipment. The lack of complaints about Gann confirms the sergeant's praise of him. Officer Gann has received several community service awards, as well as citizen compliments. The Officer of the Quarter award has been presented to Officer Gann twice.
October is Public Safety Month. The Sherman Police Department partners with the Sherman Fire Department to visit local elementary schools and teach safety guidelines for youngsters. The partnership with the fire department is a natural for Officer Gann, since he has been a volunteer firefighter in Bells for 20 years. As a special treat for the young students Officer Gann dresses as a clown to entertain and teach. The children love it, but Gann said he receives the greatest reward when his audience is receptive and interested in learning about calling 911, reacting to smoke detectors, and using their bicycle helmets.
A police officer must wear his bullet-proof vest at all times, whether indoors or outside. When asked if the equipment is heavy when he runs, Gann said it is. He said, “Running is part of what we do. I've caught some, and some have gotten away.”
Even after 20 years, there are times when Officer Gann experiences an adrenaline rush and rapid breathing and heart rate. That's when his training kicks in to enable him to slow down and concentrate. He realizes that he must control himself to be safe.
Gann's family supports him in his job. They realize that he is trained to make sound decisions. He places great value in his family.
The worst call Gann has answered was a murder-suicide. When the two children didn't arrive at school, a Welfare Department check was initiated and the police were called. When Officer Gann arrived at the house, he suspected that something was wrong. Both cars were in the driveway and the front door was locked. After breaking a window beside the door and reaching in to unlock it, he walked in on a gruesome sight. A father had shot and killed his wife, two children, and himself.
Just like chasing a suspect while wearing heavy equipment, witnessing heart-wrenching atrocities is part of what Office Tim Gann does as a police officer. He always does a self-evaluation after a difficult episode, but his strong faith and his family keep Tim Gann grounded.
Patrol Officer Tim Gann may clown around in October, but the public can be assured that he's dedicated to keeping them safe.