Officer Kiela Ruth is graduating from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy on Wednesday, but the only representative from the Waverly Police Department who will travel to Des Moines for her celebration will be Chief Rich Pursell.
Had it not been for the coronavirus, the rest of the command staff, namely Capts. Don Eggleston and Jason Leonard would have also gone to show their support for the newly minted graduate. But given the reality of the pandemic, the chief will suffice.
Only one person per department is allowed at the ceremony, Pursell said. Like the rest of the guests, he will be wearing a mask.
A 2011 graduate of Nashua-Plainfield, Officer Ruth was sworn in by then-Mayor Dean Soash on Nov. 4, 2019. Only the second female officer in the department, she replaced outgoing Officer Andrew Meier on July 4, 2019.
Currently, the department is in search mode to replace Officer Tony Krull who left the department to pursue a business opportunity.
Of the 34 original applicants, five have made the cut so far. After interviews with department leadership, the list will be narrowed, and background checks will be conducted.
The successful candidate to move on to have a physical exam with occupational health and take a psychological test.
Pursell will expect to make an offer shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, Officer Ruth will have joined the ranks. Upon her return, she will also have to undergo field training specific to the department.
In an earlier interview with Waverly Newspapers on the occasion of her oath of office, Ruth said she was excited about the opportunity to wear a WPD badge, and is looking forward to applying all the skills she had learned to community-building.
“I’ve always been drawn to law enforcement,” she told Waverly Newspapers at the time. “I have been with people through bad days. I am looking forward to building relationships with the community.”
Chief Pursell said with Ruth’s return, and after the new hire, in practice, he will still be one officer short for a whole year before the new officer joins the ranks.
“That’s the other part of the story, it shows you how long it really takes to train a new officer, and explains why losing one can have such an impact on the department,” Pursell said.