SALT LAKE CITY (NEWS4UTAH) He has served and protected the people in his hometown now for ten years. Sergeant Sam Wolf says being a police officer in Salt Lake City - specifically in the downtown area and Rio Grande - allows him to help people every single day. We find out why he loves police work in this weeks Behind the Badge.
"I wanted to give back to the city where I grew up - Salt Lake City - I love this place. That is why I work here and be a Salt Lake City cop." Sgt. Sam Wolf says this area (downtown and Rio Grande) has changed drastically since Operation Rio Grande. "On a daily basis you see a handful of people hanging out where before there were hundreds of people - an overwhelming problem." "Before this was overrun with drug dealers and people that were committing crime all the time."
He says helping the homeless all these years has been a learning experience. "You doing OK today? You need me to call an ambulance or anything?" And he says it has been a rewarding experience. "We try to ask them what they need to get out of homelessness? Do you need housing? Do you need a job? And try to help people resolve those problems. It's not just arresting bad guys." He shared an example of serving a homeless woman not too long ago. "Her whole family died. After that she just drove in her car and her car broke down here. She had lots of problems dealing with that issue - like anyone would. So, she used to drink and drink and drink." "Everybody thought - oh we need to write her a citation for open container." "You realize she is just like you and I - that could happen to any of us." "And we worked with her and she finally got into housing and everything." "And that's what really keeps me in policing right now because I know there are people out there who really need our genuine help - not to just go to jail."
That's not to say Sgt. Wolf hasn't seen so called 'police action'. In fact, he shared a story about a foot chase early in his career. "We see people - some teenagers inside - and they were all bailing. They were jumping out the window. And I thought that would be kind of exciting that's why I got into police work for so they jump out the window so I was like - I'm going out the window too. So I jump out the window and we start chasing after the guy." He says the suspect surrendered less than a minute later. "So, he gets down on the ground and he just gives himself up. And that was a fun day - that was a great day in policing."
But he says - his example growing up was his father who served in the military reserves - and it's the opportunities to serve today that Sgt. Wolf loves the most. "Helping someone's life - long term - making a positive change for the rest of their lives. Knowing you made a difference in that one person's life. That's all it takes - that is all you need. One life that has been changed. It makes it all worth it." "Take the time to get to know the person who is behind what is going on. To get to know the person who has real problems."
Sgt. Wolf's next assignment will be with the SLCPD Community Intelligence Unit. He moves into that position at the end of January 2018.
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