Lt. Thein named MPD employee of the year

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Lt. Tricia Thein applied for a job with the MPD during her first visit to Marshalltown. “I recognized right away this is the place I wanted to be,” she said.

Lt. Tricia Thein was humbled to learn she was named the Marshalltown Police Department’s Employee of the Year for 2022.

“Nothing in law enforcement is ever an individual effort,” she said. “I work with some wonderful people who are in it for the right reasons.”

Thein, who celebrated her 19th anniversary with the MPD on May 1, came to Marshalltown through a serendipitous series of events. Having never visited before, she was passing through and found herself gripped with interest.

“I recognized right away this is the place I wanted to be,” she recalled. “I stopped by the police department to see if they were hiring and they were. I got an application and turned it in right away. My mom thought, ‘Are you sure you want to move that far away?'”

Thein grew up around the small farming towns of Westgate and Maynard in northeast Iowa. She then attended Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo as a non-traditional student, and she knew she craved variety. Police science immediately grabbed her attention.

Before long, Thein discovered law enforcement was the perfect field for her. She took her first position with the Waukon Police Department, a town of about 3,600 people in Allamakee County.

She spent about six years with the department before moving on to Marshalltown, which felt much bigger than what Thein was used to at first. Before long, she found it was more like the smaller communities she came from than she expected.

“Marshalltown was a city to me for my first 30 days,” Thein said. “(But) it has a small-town quality where the neighbors take care of each other and people know each other.”

The mix of the small-town feel and a city with more than one stoplight has helped drive Thein in her roles as sergeant and now lieutenant. She enjoys the ability to stay in touch with the people she encounters through policing and being able to see real progress in Marshalltown as it happens.

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Lt. Tricia Thein is the Marshalltown Police Department’s Employee of the Year. Thein has worked for the department for 19 years.

“I want to see positive change,” she said. “I want to see how we can help families and the community get better every day.”

Among the changes she has enjoyed witnessing during her 19 years here, she is especially pleased with the growing diversity of Marshalltown.

“You see people from different cultures and backgrounds all coming together in the businesses they are opening. That’s been a huge positive for us,” Thein said.

Thein also sees her department and the community it serves having a better relationship than others both in Iowa and across the country. While uprisings against police brutality set law enforcement and protesters against each other in other places, officers with the MPD were invited to be part of demonstrations alongside the rest of the community.

Thein has worn several hats within the department. She recently finished more than three years as a detective. Now she continues her focus on crisis negotiations, strategic communication and de-escalation training. She has also served as a school resource officer and on bicycle patrol.

Police work is not the only thing that has kept Thein busy. She is not a fan of loose ends, so in 2019 she finished her last semester of college, earning her Associate of Applied Sciences Degree, which, she joked, makes her the longest tenured two-year graduate in history.

When reflecting on how she got to where she is today, Thein credits her parents with instilling the notions of right and wrong in her from a young age.

“I wanted to be a part of doing what’s right and stopping what’s wrong,” she said. “Both of my parents showed me right from wrong, and have loved me unconditionally and have been incredibly supportive through my law enforcement journey.”

As for what keeps her motivated day-to-day, Thein thinks of her children and grandchildren. She understands her position as a lieutenant with the MPD does not insulate her family from crime and tragedy, and she aims to ensure policing in Marshalltown provides a safe community for them and others.

“What sets Tricia apart from most is her willingness to go the extra mile to help someone,” said Chief Mike Tupper. “Tricia is tenacious when it comes to pursuing justice. She is also the most compassionate and caring police officer I have known. We ask our police officers to serve with passion and compassion. Tricia lives this motto each day.”

Thein will be honored as Employee of the Year at the city council meeting on May 23.

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY — 2022 MPD Employee of the Year Tricia Thein sits at her desk.


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