The City of Carbondale Police Department recently welcomed a new police captain, but the position is filled by a familiar face in a new role. Captain Patrick Lawler, a 17-year veteran of the city’s police force, was sworn in at City Hall last month by Carbondale Mayor Justin Taylor.
Captain Lawler, a graduate of Carbondale Area Jr/Sr high School, is a lifelong resident of the city. He was hired by the city to be a part-time patrolman in 2001, then passed the required civil service exam to be hired as a full-time patrolman in 2003. Passing another civil service exam in 2008 opened to door to promotion to sergeant.
Captain Lawler explained that being a police officer is something he always felt drawn to, and said that he enjoys the opportunity his career offers for helping others. Another aspect of the job that he finds fulfilling after nearly twenty years of service is the capability, acquired from years of experience, to mentor new members of the police force.
“I enjoy having the ability to mentor younger police officers, to help them not make mistakes I made. I can tell them that I’ve been through this, so this is what you don’t want to do and this is what you want to do,” explained Captain Lawler.
In order to become a captain, it was necessary for Captain Lawler to pass both a written civil service exam and an oral exam. In addition, various aspects of his work performance were evaluated to determine his suitability for promotion.
Now that he is a captain, his duties include acting as second in command to the police chief, Chief Brian Bognatz. This means that Captain Lawler is in charge in the Chief’s absence. Another duty of the captain is to oversee the patrol operations of the police force.
Captain Lawler has a practical, yet philosophical, approach to his work. His thoughts on the nature of a police officer’s job could likely apply to any law enforcement officer’s career.
“Whether people love you or hate you is usually based on how we deal with their particular problem. Basically, we’re short-term problem solvers. You try to make everybody feel like they’re getting a fair deal, but not everybody likes the outcome,” said Captain Lawler.
He continued, “You can’t make everybody happy. Generally, the people who call us are having the worst day of their lives, so we have to be aware that we deal with people at their worst, not their best.”
The practice of not taking things personally has served Captain Lawler well over the years, and will no doubt continue to do so as he expertly fulfills his new duties and responsibilities as the City of Carbondale’s new police captain.