Realizing A Life-Long Dream In Mid-Life

Oskaloosa Police Officer Jim Arment gives a young girl a sticker on New Years Eve.

Oskaloosa Police Officer Jim Arment gives a young girl a sticker on New Year’s Eve.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – There is a new TV show on ABC about a small-town guy that is pursuing a lifelong dream of becoming a police officer, and is the force’s oldest rookie.

In that show, ‘The Rookie’ is a middle-aged man, who is doing his best to keep up with the younger officers but also shows the skills that come with experience in life.

Oskaloosa has their real-life version of ‘The Rookie’ in Jim Arment.

Arment was sworn in as an Oskaloosa Police Officer in September of 2018, with his wife pinning on his badge.

Since then Arment has been working and proving himself to his fellow officers and the community that he has what it takes.

It’s New Year’s Eve in Oskaloosa, and Arment is one of three officers on patrol. He’s working traffic, pulling over a driver for speeding, checking into an abandoned 911 call, parking complaints, along with neighbor disputes — a pretty routine evening in Oskaloosa for law enforcement.

The streets aren’t filled with intoxicated drivers or pedestrians. Years of informing the public by law enforcement about the dangers of drinking and driving have had great success.

Arment is busy talking with a concerned citizen on the phone around 10 pm, with his shift ending in just an hour. That work is something he enjoys, helping to make a difference in people’s lives.

Arment, 51 years of age, and a former truck driver for 30 years, uses life’s experiences to help solve problems.

“It was just time to come home,” says Arment of his former life of living on the road, “quit living out on the highway.”

Truck driving was something that his family has done for generations, and he carried on that tradition after high school.

He joined the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Posse back in 2014, enjoying the opportunity to serve his community.

“When I was a senior in high school trying to figure out what I was going to do, it was family tradition driving truck. I was the third generation, and now my son is the fourth generation, so I’m to blame for that I guess,” says Arment. “It was either go get a chauffeur’s license, at the time, and take one test or criminal justice which was tests and quizzes and tests and quizzes. I was the type that I’d had enough of school, and family tradition kind of meant something, so I went into trucking. It was a good career.”

“The changes over the 30 years [in trucking], I was tired of it. It wasn’t what it was when I got started, it changed, and I was tired of being gone all the time,” Arment added.

That interest to be in law enforcement never went away though, and serving with the Posse helped him become aware that that was the career path he wanted.

“I decided to pursue an opportunity [police officer] that was here in Oskaloosa,” said Arment of his decision to join the Oskaloosa Police Department.

The initial interest in being in law enforcement in high school was enforced by an encounter in 2004 when he started to think about a career in law enforcement. “One of our friends was on the Posse, and we camped with his family at the fair. My wife and I talked about it, and I didn’t act on it back then. I finally did four years ago.”

“I decided to make it full time this year,” adds Arment.

During his time on the Posse, Arment took classes and spent a considerable amount of time working with Mahaska County Deputies, and came to the job with several years of experience in the field as a Mahaska County Reserve Deputy.

Arment writes a warning to a motorist on New Years Eve.

Arment writes a warning to a motorist on New Years Eve.

Being a certified reserve in Iowa requires 40 hours of supervised time in Iowa. “And you have to have continued training. It was possible with our deputies and our sheriff. Sheriff Van Renterghem is proactive when it comes to having the reserves because he does utilize them.”

That time as a Reserve Mahaska County Deputy solidified that it was the career path he wanted to pursue.

Arment then put his name in for testing at the Oskaloosa Police Department, and he looked at that move as one step at a time. “They do the physical testing when you apply. Get your invitation to come in to test”.

“Knocked that off [physical testing], went to the next step. I wasn’t too brokenhearted or anything if I didn’t pass any of those hurdles along the way because I already had a career,” adds Arment. “It wasn’t a life or death situation so to speak.”

Arment and his wife sat down and had that conversation about his possible career change. “I wasn’t going to make that kind of a change without talking to her about it, because, not only is the wages different, but it’s a different line of work. Something as we all know, see in the media, some guys don’t make it home. Just wanted to make sure she was okay with it.”

“I guess you can say she gave me her blessing,” adds Arment.

His wife pinned on his badge at a ceremony at the second city council meeting in September. “That’s when it all sank in that it all worked out, is when I was sworn in.”

Arment then went through field training with his fellow officers, and he credits his field training officers for helping him during that time.

Arment is now waiting for his opportunity to attend the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

One of the biggest things to learn so far was utilizing the computers that are now used for law enforcement. “Computers, when I was in school, had a green screen to them and about the size of a suitcase,” added Arment.

“It feels pretty good,” says Arment of being on his own now. “You’re learning more.”

Besides the age of career change, the switch from truck driver to law enforcement is also interesting. The two professions are often viewed as arch enemies. “Oh yeah,” says Arment of the ribbing he now takes over the switch. “The truck drivers are giving me grief about switching teams and that.”

“Oh yeah,” says Arment of the fun banter he takes from others about his age. “It’s all in fun. I’ve been called the ‘Old Guy’, and all kinds of things that go with getting older.”

His fellow officers are some of the first to admit that his age has helped Arment to be a good officer from the start. Arment thinks his life experiences and temperament are a benefit to him and his future in law enforcement. “The older you get, the more wisdom you have and you don’t react as much as gathering facts. It’s just things you learn as you get older.”

“On your 66th birthday, you’re done,” says Arment of the prospect of retirement.

In Iowa, certified law enforcement are forced to hang up their badge as certified law enforcement.

That means there may be a third career for Arment in his future. “You didn’t have too many retirement plans in trucking, maybe a 401k.”

“I’ve been one that doesn’t mind working,” says Arment, who says one day he may be semi-retired from working. “I just don’t see retiring completely. I’ve never really thought about that.”

Arment’s advice for those considering a career change, he says that if you like change and adventure, yeah, make the change. “If you want to make a career change, go for it. Nothing holds you back except yourself I guess.”

Arment pulls up outside the Mahaska County Law Center at 11 pm on New Year’s Eve. He collects all of his paperwork and prepares to take on his first full year in his new career. For him, the new year is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Posted by on Jan 4 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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