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Officer Sheets named MPD Employee of the Year

Officer Stephen Sheets credits the team around him for making a difficult year exceptional.

Sheets is the Marshalltown Police Department Employee of the Year. He is among several nominees considered by the awards committee.

“He is one of the most humble people I have ever met. Officer Sheets just wants to help people,” said Chief Mike Tupper. “He cares about Marshalltown. Officer Sheets comes to work each day with a positive attitude and is someone who can be relied upon to get the job done.”

Sheets has served with the department for more than seven years. He was with the Marshall County Jail prior to joining the force.

Originally from Oklahoma, Sheets served in the United States Army for six years and as an operating room technician for another six. While in the army he met his wife Michelle who is from Iowa. In 1999, the pair moved to her home state.

He is part of the department’s tactical team and is a field training officer. Sheets spent the last year on the night shift but is currently on patrol during day shift.

Sheets notes night shift carries a unique set of challenges. He said nights tend to yield more calls on domestic incidents. He’s noticed some uptick in domestic calls in the last year which may correlate with people being locked down because of the pandemic.

“We had a couple critical incidents over the course of the last year. We had a really good team,” he said. “The team we had really came together and managed to get things done and help people in some bad situations.”

Negative sentiment toward policing is another challenge Sheets and his fellow officers dealt with more during the year.

“We don’t see a ton of it around our area. On the night shift we run into that just a little bit more,” he said. “All the officers I work with handle that in a professional manner. We didn’t let that get to us.”

Looking ahead, Sheets sees finding new officers as the biggest challenge for the department in the future. The problem isn’t unique to Marshalltown’s force, or policing in general he said. First responder numbers are on a decline as a whole.

As a field training officer, Sheets is aware of how difficult it can be to get new talent in the field. Prospective officers spend more than three months in the academy then another four months on a probationary period. By the time they are trained and in the rotation they have spent nine to 12 months preparing for the job. Meanwhile, an officer leaving the department usually puts in a minimum of two weeks notice before leaving as they would in any other job.

“It’s a struggle for us to find guys who want to get into the career. I don’t know if that’s a short-term trend or a thing that’s going on with everything in the country at large,” Sheets said. “We’re always hiring. We’re always looking for good candidates. I’ll be busy with that for the foreseeable future.”

Sheets has an idea of who nominated him as employee of the year, though he isn’t positive he is supposed to know. Regardless he is honored to even be considered for the award.

“I was grateful that the people that put me in thought enough of me to put me in for it,” he said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the guys and gals I was working with. Honestly I feel like it’s more of a reflection on all of us as a whole.”

The award, sponsored by the Times-Republican, will be presented to Sheets at the May 10 Marshalltown City Council meeting.

It coincides with National Police Week, which is May 9-15.

Contact Joe Fisher at jfisher@timesrepublican.com.

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