In this ongoing Behind the Badge series, The Crossroads Chronicle reached out to Georgia State Patrol Post 19 Commander Sergeant First Class Richard Fishel to give some insight about his career as a law enforcement officer. This is what he had to say:
What is your education background?
Trooper Fishel: I graduated from Southgate High School in Augusta in 1989. I joined the Air Force in 1989 and was an AF Reservist until 1997. I attended Augusta University (Augusta College back then) and graduated in 1994 with a B.A. in Sociology with a criminal justice concentration.
How long have you been a law enforcement officer?
Trooper Fischel: I started my law enforcement career in 1996 with Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. I graduated from the police academy in 1997 and remained a road patrol deputy until 2000. In December 2000, I joined the Richmond County DUI Task Force and remained there until 2005, at which point I was promoted to corporal over the unit. I had a brief stint with Columbia County BOE Police (which was not for me) but returned to the RCSO for about a year until I was hired by Georgia State Patrol in 2007.
Why did you decide to become a LEO?
Trooper Fischel: It is a career field that I have always been interested in, and this is the job I believe I was created to do.
What is your work history as a LEO? What other offices have you worked at?
Trooper Fischel: Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta, Columbia County BOE, and Georgia State Patrol. Since I’ve been with the state patrol, I’ve worked as a trooper at Post 25 in Thomson, a corporal at Post 25 in Grovetown (formerly Thomson), a sergeant at Post 21 in Sylvania, and now I’m sergeant first class/post commander at Post 19 here in Swainsboro.
What is the favorite part of your job?
Trooper Fischel: The interaction with the different people you meet in each of our unique communities that we serve. By and large, contrary to what we are bombarded with by the media and on social media, most of the citizens in our communities, to include the ones we must occasionally meet through a traffic stop, are decent, hard-working folks and positively contribute to the community. They also support law enforcement and frequently go out of their ways to come up to us and let us know how much they appreciate what we do. We have many of them even pay for our meals without us knowing they did so. I also enjoy working with the best group of troopers in the state of Georgia assigned to Post 19 Swainsboro. They are the most hard-working and dedicated bunch I have ever had the privilege of being associated with. We are dealing with an extreme manpower issue right now and quite a few times over the past year, we have gotten down to as few as four troopers. These guys don’t complain; they just continue to go out and do the job the citizens of this great state pay us to do. They all (including our fantastic new post secretary) really do make my job easy. I am thankful and blessed to be assigned to Post 19 Swainsboro, which covers the counties of Emanuel, Jefferson, Johnson, and Treutlen.
What does the badge mean to you?
Trooper Fischel: The badge represents the citizens of the state of Georgia. It also represents the Constitutions of the state of Georgia and the United States of America, and the laws enacted by those respective legislatures guided by those Constitutions that we are sworn to serve, protect, and uphold.
Who is your support system?
Trooper Fischel: It goes without saying that my wife of 23 years is my primary supporter. She, along with my son and extended family, are very supportive and understand the unique stressors and intricacies involved in this job to include time away from home on most holidays and unexpected deployments that could last for days or weeks. My church family is also a significant support system as well.
How does your family deal with the different aspects of your job?
Trooper Fischel: It was difficult for them in the beginning but over time, they learn to adjust to things like me not being around for all or part of most holidays, which families traditionally spend together. Other than that, we live our lives as normally as most folks do I would imagine.
How do you deal with the stresses of your job?
Trooper Fischel: I try to spend quality time daily reading significant amounts of scripture and time in prayer. I also enjoy reading books to include biographies and theological works.
How have things changed over the years, and what are some issues that you have to deal with under the current atmosphere?
Trooper Fischel: I have noticed that over that past 25 years of my career, people have become less respectful overall towards any person(s) that are in a position of authority. This includes not only law enforcement officials, but teachers, work bosses, or a salesperson at a retail store or at your local McDonald’s. There has also been a noticeable loss of civility that people show to one another during their daily interactions whether in person or anonymously on social media (which I believe is the root cause of our lack of civil person interactions).
The Crossroads Chronicle thanks Trooper Fishel for taking the time and allowing some insight into his life. The Chronicle hopes he as well as all LEOs know how much the general public appreciate the sacrifice they exhibit everyday. As always, The Chronicle prays for their safety as they fulfill their pledge to “serve and protect.”