November 26, 2022

Protecting the country; protecting Creston

At one time in their lives, Creston Police Officers Corey Dorsey, Nick Perry, Patrick Roche and Ethan Zepp were protecting the country.

Now, they are protecting the citizens of Creston.

The four police officers have the common bond of having served in the military before exchanging uniforms for the Creston Police Department.

“Being in the infantry, one job that translates well is law enforcement,” said Perry, who grew up in Creston.

His father was in the Army but it did not have a significant influence on him joining the service.

“I don’t know what exactly made me sign up but I know I wanted to go into the military when I was little. I know I just wanted to ‘up’ my dad so I joined the Marines,” he said.

After boot camp in California, he was assigned an infantry position and was deployed to Japan and Australia during his time from 2016 to 2020. His time in Japan included being at sea for a month near South Korea. The potential to travel through the military is what made him enjoy his time in Australia.

“I loved that place and they loved us,” he laughed. “They are great allies and it’s a great place to be. Their kangaroos are like our deer here,” he said, comparing the animals that are common and sometimes a nuisance.

But with plans to be married and a family, Perry said it can be difficult to do that and be career military.

“I do miss the camaraderie,” he said about the relationships he had in the Marines. “The ‘leave no man behind’ is real. Once you get out, you miss it. I wish I could go back.”

Zepp, 28, did come from a heavily involved military family from cousins, uncles, aunts and his father is a Colonel in the South Dakota National Guard.

“I did feel an obligation growing up,” he said. He was in the Army from 2012 to 2018.

“I joined for the college benefits,” Zepp said about a common motivation to join. “I did two and a half years in college and decided it was not for me. It’s not what I wanted to do.”

After training in Virginia, he was assigned to learn how to be a helicopter mechanic. He was never deployed.

“I never planned on making it a career,” he said. Zepp said he married before his last drills training.

“That solidified for me it was the right time to get out,” he said. “But I do miss it.”

Roche joined the Marines in 2014.

“My grandfather was a Marine. My older brother is in the Army and he went to West Point. That influenced my decision,” he said.

After boot camp in San Diego, he was part of a training mission in South Korea for a month.

“That was fun. You do get to go some place else and experience another culture,” he said.

While he was watching the surroundings, Roche was absorbing what the Marines were all about.

“They are big on small-unit leaders,” he said. “They really push guys to become leaders and the next-man-up mentality. You never know when you will be the one to make those decisions. You are put in stressful situations for training. Hopefully you are ready in any situation that could arise.”

Roche said another part of the Marines is learning the different backgrounds others come from but having to learn how to work together. Roche had been part of a reserve unit in his home state of Wisconsin until this year.

Zepp had similar feelings.

“I had a stereotype. Then you walk in and meet all the people. It was so surprising. Different walks can lead to the same end,” he said.

Dorsey may have had the closest experience as a police officer while in the military. He grew up in Greenfield and joined the National Guard after high school in 2012 as a military police officer.

“I wanted a good foundation to get into law enforcement,” he said. “That was the way to go.” He said he has a long history of Marines in his family. “I was the black sheep.”

While stationed in Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for a combined basic and advanced training, he learned a variety of MP actions that acted like civilian police work from investigations to handling suspects.

Dorsey was never deployed as his timing was off. His unit had just returned from Honduras when he joined and his unit was scheduled to leave for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after his service ended in 2018.

None of the four said their military experience was specifically needed for their police work. But comments were made about the psychology that came with the military.

“When you are in the military and in for a few years with leadership, you have to be confident in yourself,” Zepp said. “That’s helped a ton.”

The four were supportive of others’ interest in joining the service; as long as there is a goal to reach.

“What are you looking to get out of it,” Roche said. “What jobs are you thinking of doing? I recommend most anyone to go into the service, but invest into a skill.”

Zepp agreed.

“The reason (to join) is important. For me, I don’t think there is a negative thing. It can be physical. If your personal responsibility is lacking, the military will tell you to be responsible for yourself.”

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.