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Officer John Kazmierski is a welcome addition to the small force that has had a lot of turnover lately

BARBARA SHERMAN - John Kazmierski started with the King City Police Department on June 4, and after four weeks of field training is now driving solo, patrolling the streets and keeping them safe.If King City residents spot the city's newest police officer, John Kazmierski, wearing a black-and-white striped shirt during his off-duty hours, they don't need to worry that he escaped from a prison work crew: He officiates football games in his off-duty time.

And it's a good thing that Kazmierski ended up on the right side of the law because all he has ever wanted to do is be a police officer.

Born in Austen, Texas, Kazmierski was raised in Salem and attended Santiam Christian High School in Adair Village near Corvallis. After he graduated, he earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Corbin University in 2009.

"Nothing else interested me once I started taking law enforcement classes," Kazmierski said. "I knew that was what I wanted to do."

However, it took a while for him to find a job as a police officer. "I did a lot of random, odd jobs," Kazmierski said. "I drove an armored truck, and I had a FedEx route."

He noted that "it's really hard to get hired in law enforcement," and at the time he was looking, the Oregon State Police had a hiring freeze. "It's just hard to get your foot in the door."

But Kazmierski persevered and got a job as a deputy with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. "It was good to learn the corrections side of law, and I met a lot of different people," he said. "But I always wanted to do patrol and be on the road."

Kazmierski finally got that dream job working for the Beaverton Police Department, calling it "a really good experience" and adding, "I made a lot of good friends and learned how to be a cop."

When he left BPD, he wanted to stay in law enforcement but worked for three months for a moving company.

Kazmierski literally walked in the front door of King City City Hall to ask if there were any openings in the police department, and Sam Wiley told him that one might be coming up. Sure enough, an opening in the five-officer force came up, and Kazmierski applied and was interviewed and hired, starting June 4.

After patrolling in Beaverton, there was an adjustment to a much-smaller force. "The size of the whole town is the size of one district in Beaverton," Kazmierski said. "But I like it here. This is true community policing, and everyone has been very friendly."

He had four weeks of field training with Officer Brian Sigler, saying after one week on the job, "Three more weeks to go and then I'm riding solo. I like what I see so far, and I like the place."

Off-duty, Kazmierski will be starting his seventh season officiating high school football games in the Salem area and has just been hired to officiate at the college level for the Northwest Intercollegiate Football Officials Association.

"With shift work, you do as much (officiating) as you can," Kazmierski said. "Whenever I can, I'll make it work. But I like being a cop. I like the camaraderie, and being a police officer is really being part of a brotherhood."

In fact, Kazmierski sees similarities between officiating and policing. "They both breed mental fitness, you need to be physically fit, and sometimes people can get upset with you," he said.

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