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Rexburg police chief reflects before retiring

Shane Turman never dreamt of becoming a police officer.

When the Rexburg chief of police approached him, Turman wanted to pursue an art degree from Ricks College. A position for patrol officer had recently opened up, and the chief thought Turman would be a good fit for the job since he was friends with the chief’s son.

“I had never even thought of being a police officer,” Turman said. “I went home and talked with my parents about it. They said, ‘You ought to give it a try.’ Next thing I know, I got the job. After I started, within the first couple of months, I thought ‘Man, this is really a great job.’ It just got better and better from there. Thirty-four years later, I’m still doing it.”

After a few years of police service, Turman discovered his great-grandfather was one of the first territorial marshals in the United States, Henry Jenkins.

Turman spent the last 34 years increasing his skill set. He received an advanced certificate from the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2002.

According to the program’s website, the program “provides coursework in intelligence theory, terrorism and terrorist mindsets, management science, law, behavioral science, law enforcement communication, and forensic science —serves to improve the administration of justice in police departments and agencies at home and abroad and to raise law enforcement standards, knowledge, and cooperation.”

Turman also refined his skills in other areas such as computer forensics, child pornography investigations, crime scene investigations, interview interrogations, profiling and composite drawings.

However, the job as Rexburg police chief is rarely so exciting. His day fills itself with hiring new officers, signing documents and sitting in on meetings.

“It’s lots of paperwork,” Turman said. “I don’t get to go out as a chief and do all the fun stuff like chasing crooks and capturing them and all that kind of stuff.”

One issue that causes him a lot of stress at all levels is school safety.

“I’m always worried about getting a phone call or something that we’ve got an active shooter or something in one of our schools,” Turman said. “We’ve also got a campus with 20,000 students, and I worry about what could happen up on campus.”

However, many aspects of his police work also bring satisfaction. When Turman worked as a lieutenant, he came into contact with several child abuse cases.

“The most rewarding thing for me was being able to get a child in a good household or out of an abusive situation,” Turman said. “To be able to take a child and get them out of a situation where they’re being either physically, mentally or sexually abused will stay with me because I feel like I made a difference. I made a difference in someone’s life.”

One such case landed on Turman’s desk in 1998. The suspects were two parents who tortured their baby from birth until the infant died eight weeks later.

“I worked on that case alone for two years solid,” Turman said. ”I got those parents sent to prison. I got the highest sentence in the state of Idaho on a shaken baby case up to that point in the history of the state. To me, that was one of the most rewarding things because I felt like I got some justice for that little boy.”

Through all of this, Turman has had his wife, Kelly, by his side.

“I couldn’t have done this job without her, and she’s had to go through everything with me,” Turman said. “She’s always kept a very positive attitude and been my strength.”

One piece of advice Turman would give to his past self as well as anyone considering becoming a police officer is to not get jaded against humanity.

“Realize 99% of the people we deal with that have committed a crime or done something wrong are good people that made a mistake,” Turman said. “It’s only the 1% that are just bad people.”

Turman also stressed the importance of setting priorities and boundaries.

“Don’t let this job become who you are because someday the job’s gonna end,” Turman said. “Being a cop is not who I am. It’s what I do for my career. Who I am is my family, my church. Officers tend to get so wrapped up into this career, and they become cops 24 hours a day. That’s very hard on marriages. It’s hard on families.”

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