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To protect and serve: Paul Gardner, trooper, Iowa State Patrol, District 7

Paul Gardner

How long have you been in law enforcement?

A total of 20 years in law enforcement. I’ve been a state trooper for 14 years.

What other law enforcement positions/departments have you served in?

I started with the Webster County Sheriff Reserve, then went on to work as a police officer in Gowrie, Red Oak and Webster City before joining the State Patrol.

What’s an interesting fact about you that some might not know?

I’m a history buff. I enjoy learning about American and Iowa history (on a related note, this year is the 85th anniversary of the Iowa State Patrol.)

What’s the most memorable incident you’ve responded to?

Both were in 2008, the first was the Parkersburg tornado. I had never personally seen the aftermath of an EF-5 tornado. There seemed to be a distinct line where on one side houses were left untouched and on the other side there was nothing left. My second was a couple of weeks later during the Cedar Rapids floods. Trooper Devereaux and I had been sent there together for a week as part of a statewide response. The neighborhood we were assigned to had been completely destroyed by flood water. Seeing what those people had to go through was unbelievable. We had some very interesting experiences there and we still talk about those to this day.

What’s the best part of your day?

Stopping for coffee with my co-workers. We have a great camaraderie in this district, but it’s also a great way to interact with the public.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your job?

When everything comes together at the end of a call to work for good. Handling something like a major car crash can be very complex, especially when serious injuries or a drunk driver is involved, and teamwork is very important to make sure the job gets done.

What’s the toughest part about your job?

The State Patrol routinely deals with fatal accidents. The worst are those involving young children. I guess the toughest part of my job is the death notification. Telling someone their loved one won’t be coming home is never easy.

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