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EDITORIAL — Police work: Duriso seeks special people

Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso says his department is building up to full strength but he could sure use another five officers. We know he’s right.

Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III swore in four officers — Cade Carr, Lari Revira, Jake Benoit and Christian Villasana — last week, bringing the department’s total of sworn officers to 126. Another five, Duriso says, would do Port Arthur Police Department well.

That’s why he advertises routinely through the department website and in professional journals. He and designated officers visit job fairs, college campuses and military bases to find people with experience or aptitude or interest. Good officers, he said, come from various walks of life.

Part of Port Arthur’s challenge is its boundaries of responsibilities, which stretch from a sliver of Orange County to near the Jack Brooks Airport to the Louisiana border — there’s 18 miles of Pleasure Island — to the edge of Sea Rim State Park. That’s a lot of real estate.

Much of it came in with annexations in the 1970s; call those wounds self-inflicted. The Sabine Pass annexation, for example, was a hostile takeover, and people there have not forgotten. No need to remind them.

“We’re stretched thin,” Duriso said this week. “It’s challenging because of the distance and what we cover.”

City leadership has been supportive of the department, said Duriso, who took over as chief last September, and he’s appreciative of that. Nonetheless, police work, while vitally important to a community, comes with challenges. It’s not for everyone.

Duriso said he touts police work as a career because of its intrinsic rewards. Officers don’t go a day without the chance to make a positive difference in someone’s life. If you want to do good, he says, wear the badge.

That’s built into the department’s mission: to uphold a spirit of helping people and providing assistance, to teach people about public safety issues, to aggressively respond to criminal activities, to consistently display integrity and professionalism.

Recruits must be U.S. citizens between 21-45, hold a valid driver’s license, meet a standard for criminal records, have never committed family violence, must pass muster for carrying a weapon.

There are some physical requirements, too: You must pass an obstacle course test, pass a polygraph, drag a dummy and meet the mark in a 250-yard sprint. Until you’ve passed, don’t scoff at any of that.

There’s this, as well: Police officers who start the job Oct. 1 will earn $4,527.98 a month: Over 12 months, that’s $54,335 and change. Good officers are worth every bit of that and more, especially when they face dangers the rest of us avoid. We commend those who put on the badge. We encourage other, special people to consider it.