Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room simply earlier than beginning the in a single day shift on Thursday night.
Enjoyable her arms, each coated in spiraling tattoos, sporting 45 kilos of drugs and a 9-mm Glock pistol, the 22-year-old rookie Rifle Police officer and self-confessed adrenaline junkie recounts a current name she responded to.
“We needed to search a constructing,” she mentioned, pausing. “It’s a really massive, crazy-laid-out constructing. We obtained a burglar alarm from it.”
Commonplace protocol is to deal with each alarm as if any person is likely to be inside, Walker mentioned.
“As a result of, if you get complacent, that’s when one thing dangerous might occur,” she mentioned.
Walker needed to accompany her accomplice and methodically canvas the a number of doorways and aisles interspersed all through the big, warehouse-like inside, commanding anybody probably inside to seem and establish themselves.
“It was scary, nevertheless it was additionally enjoyable, if that is smart,” Walker mentioned.
She’s not even a month on the job but.
Walker formally raised her proper hand earlier than Rifle Metropolis Council and took the oath to serve and defend her neighborhood on Might 19. And, as close by Chief Tommy Klein and fellow officers cheered Walker’s ceremony of passage into the Skinny Blue Line, Walker’s father, Bob, pinned the shiny badge onto his daughter’s black uniform.
For many who know her, Walker’s transition into regulation enforcement may very well be seen coming a mile away. Regardless of having an innate thirst for thrills, Walker was already placing her expertise to make use of as a dispatcher for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Division.
“Positively, issues that I discovered from dispatch have helped a lot; like, bringing folks from their worst all the way down to a stage the place I can speak to them and get them to be open to what I’m making an attempt to elucidate to them and get them to grasp sufficient that they’re a bit of bit extra calm,” Walker defined. “That has helped so much having that dispatch expertise.”
After two years of being the communications lifeline throughout vital conditions, Walker desired one thing a bit of extra tangible.
“I miss it, however I wished to be on the road doing the issues,” Walker mentioned of her days of dispatch. “And each time one thing occurred, I wished to be there. And each time somebody known as out, like in a combat or in a pursuit, like, I wished to be doing these issues, and it felt actually arduous being simply caught behind a desk and never having the ability to assist them.”
That’s when Walker, born and raised in Garfield County, despatched purposes to Basalt, Glenwood Springs and Rifle police departments.
After filling out an essay and answering questions requested by three oral boards, Walker was off to the academy. As soon as she graduated, she’d go well with as much as signify Rifle’s best.
There are totally different segments within the academy required of all cadets, Walker mentioned. It’s like a heavy mixture of bodily coaching and hitting the books: studying legal guidelines, studying how one can apply them within the subject.
“You’re doing eventualities all on the similar time that you simply’re studying: driving expertise, firearms, defensive ways and an entire bunch of different stuff,” Walker mentioned. “On the similar time you’re studying de-escalation, stress administration. …
“We discovered some Spanish, which I believed was tremendous necessary, particularly in our neighborhood the place we have now a variety of Spanish audio system. That was invaluable to me.”
One other enjoyable a part of police academy: workout-induced exhaustion. One exercise contains using the 1990 AC/DC hit “Thunderstruck.”
“Each time they are saying ‘Thunder,’ you must do a burpee,” Walker reminisced. A burpee is an train that entails dropping to your arms, pushing your legs out and standing again up multi function movement. “You wouldn’t assume that they are saying (‘Thunder’) that a lot till you must do a burpee. … I by no means wish to hearken to that tune once more.”
However the arduous work paid off for Walker. She handed academy and is now within the midst of finishing 4 phases of subject coaching, which usually take about 16 weeks.
As soon as that’s full, Walker will formally be a part of what she calls her “household” on a full-time foundation. Walker, nevertheless, has already skilled indicators of familial love.
One in every of Walker’s tattoos is an octopus reaching its tentacles throughout her proper forearm, which she obtained from a fellow Rifle police officer who can also be a tattoo artist. When she places her uniform in a division washer and asks one of many feminine officers to modify it to the dryer for her, they do and — going above and past — they fold it.
“I don’t plan on leaving. I like this division,” Walker mentioned. “I really feel like that is positively my household. Like, anytime I really feel like if one thing occurred and I wanted one thing, I might attain out to anybody right here. … And simply small issues like that. We are able to all joke collectively, and we have now meals collectively. … We’ve got one another’s backs.”
Haley Walker was born in Glenwood Springs and graduated from Grand Valley Excessive College in 2017.
Again then she was all the time eager on doing all the pieces to the fullest.
“Oh, my god, she was a perfectionist,” Walker’s stepmother Vickie Havens mentioned. “She would give herself ulcers as a result of she obtained a B-plus on an task. So she simply all the time needed to be one of the best and all the time had to assist all the pieces.”
Mother, do you want assist doing the dishes, Walker would all the time ask Havens. Do you want assist folding the laundry? The boys are driving me loopy (Walker has three brothers), can we lock them exterior?
She was keen to assist at each flip. Properly, nearly each flip.
“I did get a tattoo after I was 17,” Walker mentioned.
With out permission, in addition.
“She went behind our again and, , form of manipulated the state of affairs,” Havens mentioned. “We weren’t precisely completely satisfied about it.”
However what might you anticipate? Not solely did Walker persevere with flying colours by means of the presence of three brothers, she grew up searching and studying how one can shoot together with her father, Bob.
A mechanic who spends his time tinkering with and restoring a 1972 GMC pickup truck, Bob is Walker’s rock. When Walker, a self-described insomniac, isn’t enjoying video video games or having fun with the outside, she’s serving to her father carry his basic truck as much as snuff.
“If he ever picks a shade of blue,” Havens quipped.
The truck mission has existed for the previous six years, however Bob’s sharp ears have been there endlessly. It doesn’t matter if Walker’s having a foul day.
“My dad’s not nice at speaking about issues like that, however he listens,” Walker mentioned. “And, generally, that’s all you want, is somebody to pay attention.”
When Chief Klein requested Bob to pin the badge on her daughter’s uniform final month, Havens was merely amazed.
“That was nice, ? To see all of that. And the division got here out and everybody got here in to assist Haley in that,” she mentioned. “Even her mom and her facet of the household, , got here out to assist her.”
Everybody will all the time be there for Walker regardless of the place her life takes her, Havens added of the household.
“(Walker) was going to be a nurse in some unspecified time in the future, and he or she modified her thoughts,” she mentioned. “She was going to attempt to be a Marine — she modified her thoughts. I imply, she’s a strong-willed particular person. When she desires one thing, she goes.”
This holds true for her present line of labor.
If Walker’s doing her job and all the pieces she might on any given day, then she’s completed precisely what she’s imagined to do.
“I get up on daily basis earlier than I come to work and placed on my recreation face,” Walker mentioned. “And I did the identical factor at dispatch. And I do all the pieces that I can each single time, even when it’s simply giving somebody instructions — tremendous small issues. For some folks, that makes their total day.”
Reporter Ray Okay. Erku might be reached at 612-423-5273 or [email protected].