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Pocatello Police Officer Lauren Herrick trains others; fights crime stemming from drugs and mental health issues

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Pocatello PD Officer Lauren Herrick sits in her police cruiser in front of the Pocatello Regional Airport on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Herrick has been an officer with PPD since June, 2011. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

POCATELLO — Since she first allowed herself to be tangled up in the tales of Agatha Christie, Officer Lauren Herrick has dreamed of a career in law enforcement.

Herrick grew up in Pocatello, reading the investigative works of the British author and watching similar TV shows and movies. The idea of investigating crimes and piecing together clues has been an interest of hers since.

That interest led Herrick from Century High School to the University of Idaho, where she earned a degree in criminal justice. While she says that she didn’t necessarily dream of being a police officer, she has always known that her career path was in law enforcement, in some capacity.

Now, the 36-year-old is coming up on 11 years as a member of the Pocatello Police Department, more than seven of those as a Field Training Officer.

Patrolling the community she has always called home, and doing so while training others to do the same, is a great source fo pride for Herrick, who said that it gives her an opportunity to usher Pocatello toward the community it is capable of being.

“Trying to made an impact,” she explained to EastIdahoNews.com was the greatest positive in her role with PPD. “Trying to make (Pocatello) better than it was; trying to get it back to where it maybe needs to be.”

And one of the things Herrick would like to see combatted to get Pocatello to “where is needs to be” is treatment for mental health illnesses and drug dependency.

While she is unable to place even an approximate percentage on crimes stemming from drugs and mental health issues, she feels they are a major factor in a vast majority of the city’s crimes.

“Honestly, I think (we need) more help with mental illness,” she said. “It’s a contributing factor to a lot of different things. We need more assistance with mental illness and drug dependency, that seems to be the basis for a lot of our city’s problems.”

Resources, she admits, is the issue. There just isn’t enough money to go around for the city, county, state or country to face these issues head-on.

Pocatello PD officer Lauren Herrick

PPD Officer Lauren Herrick in front of her cruiser. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

On April 14, Bannock County Sheriff Tony Manu and the parents of Lance Quick held a joint news conference following the filing of a report regarding Lance’s death while in jail custody.

Lance, who suffered from multiple mental health illnesses, died during one of his “manic episodes.”

During the conference, Manu was asked whether his office could afford to provide care for those suffering from mental health ailments. The first-term sheriff, who took the position after Lance’s death, struggled to soften the blow of his answer.

“No,” he said after consideration. “Funding is always a limited resource, it’s an area that — you have to basically triage your resources and get the most services out of the limited dollars that you get.”

The Pocatello Police Department published a Facebook post Wednesday, outlining its concerns regarding recent drug overdoses.

“Anyone using illegal drugs is placing themselves at risk of ingesting unknown toxic substances that could be lethal,” the post reads as a warning. “Over the past few weeks, officers have responded to multiple overdoses of opioids where illegal pills and heroin were ingested containing toxic substances, like fentanyl.”

While drugs and mental health issues will continue to be an issue for the Pocatello Police Department until they are met with significant funding, Herrick will continue to do her part in battling in which ever way is possible.

One thing that she is capable of doing to combat the problem falls into her duties as an FTO.

As part of her mission to make an impact on the Pocatello community, Herrick has overseen the field training of about 20 officers, a “good portion” of whom are still with the department.

“It’s interesting to, kind of, get in at the ground level to build the base for a new officer, to teach them how things are done,” Herrick said. “It reinforces your knowledge of the subject and adds to theirs.”

Admittedly, Herrick found her way into the FTO position a bit prematurely, “I was still feeling like I was coming into my own as an officer,” she said. But she allowed herself to grow into her role, and it has since become a great source of pride, watching officers she trained grow.

The same can be said of her position as a patrol officer. While there are definitely difficulties facing her and other officers every shift, and at time balance can be tough to find, they always show Herrick why she is happy she followed the path of law enforcement.

“There are definitely many things from many different days that will come back — some good, some bad — that will remind you why we’re doing what we’re doing and why we’re needed.”

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