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Recruit Halsen: A Profile in local law Enforcement

By Warren Saydenworth

We met at the Bad Moon Saloon to discuss what the history of a Recruit to the Ashmore Police Department, the APD, might look like. How would that drive a person to seek the calling of law enforcement in a sleepy Pocono Mountains town? What kind of experience would that bring to the job? The picture Recruit Dahlia Halsen painted stood in stark contrast to the average image associated with small town police departments. It is often assumed that small town police are raised in the town they patrol. Born in Detroit, Michigan, a city with a troubled history, Dahlia Halsen survived those streets, and chose to enlist in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18, in an effort to make her own way. She served proudly as a motor vehicle operator and mechanic, touring in combat theaters and humanitarian efforts alike. Dahlia Halsen (DH): "...I had a rough upbringing.... And the military wasn't a popular thing in my family. I joined out of a sense of need to make my own way, and because I believed, perhaps blindly, in the sanctity of what the US was doing at the time. I was promptly and completely disowned after I signed my enlistment papers, and went to training with one set of clothes, and four dollars in my pocket. Detroit, then as now, is a battered city, a shadow of what it used to be, even more so now than when I grew up. After that, well, the reason I stayed as a lifer in the Corps was because they became my new family." Warren Saydenworth (WS): "You said you retired in 2014, as a Master Seargent? That's fairly impressive in its own right. I know that advancement in the Marine Corps isn't as straightforward or easily achieved as in other branches. You said they became your family. What kind of bonds did you make there? And is there anything about your time in service that you think reflects on how you see your service in the APD?" DH: "I did. I might've retired a Master Gunny, but I had a few road bumps on the way to the end. As for bonds, I had friends, enemies. Brothers, sisters. And I've seen enough of them shipped home in a body bag. Well, dedication to service, and knowing how to walk the line between hardline authority, and gentle demeanor as need arises. Most of a deployment isn't Hollywood. A lot of it is hurry up and wait, logistics, and even interacting with the locals and providing humanitarian service. Not all missions are guns and glory..." "The APD is a welcome change of pace, it allows me to interact and help those I fought for locally. And, when it's needed, my time in the corps gives me the skills necessary to end a threat by arrest or otherwise to the general welfare of the people that call Ashmore home. Its a bit cliche, but I am a patriot, not to the government, but to the nation, and the people that call it home. Political discourse is a discussion for another time, of course. So long as I am able, and my body allows me, I will continue to do what I can to serve that ideal, and the people I can. While I have a deep appreciation for what we have, I also recognize that there will always be a need for people to defend those things, so innocent people don't suffer." From there, she traveled to Denver to take up a life as a Park Ranger, before wildfires and family tragedy prompted a change to law enforcement. Taking up the badge during the trying times of civil unrest, riots, and the country's continual reexamination of its own systemic flaws, Dahlia took her oaths seriously, and took two bullets besides, fighting to make order of chaos for three years. WS: "What can you tell me about the riots? And shot 2 times in 3 years? That's brutal. Can you tell me about the circumstances surrounding those injuries? What did those experiences tell you about people? About yourself? How did you keep faith in your police work in the face of those riots? What did your experiences with protestors and the involvement of government agencies in those protests do to your perspective on the matter? How did that time of service, those trials and harrowing experiences, translate to a traveling to Ashmore?" DH: "Shot twice. 2020 and 2021. The riots during and after the outbreak of COVID? Well, to start there was the George Floyd tragedy that had the whole nation up in arms, not to mention the added tension from the shutdowns and governmental ineptitude. If we're talking the Feds? They should have stayed ... out of it, Warren. All they did was turn a protest into a full scale riot that resulted in so much undue suffering and loss. None of it was necessary. At first the protesters were peaceful, and even later many still were. But then... well, you know the federal cases going on right now. A bunch of people with ill intentions turned a fight for justice into a complete disaster. Innocent people jailed and killed... I was lucky to have only been shot twice and live. I left Denver this year because amidst all the chaos I couldn't be so close to where my wife and family had died... So I left. One thing led to another, and I wound up here. I would, for the record, like to state, that if uninvolved forces hadn't gotten involved, Denver wouldn't have burned. I don't blame the protesters, and most of the ones that were jailed are every bit entitled to that lawsuit they just won." WS: "In the course of your daily rounds, whats the most extreme experience you've had in your short time on the force? And what's the most mundane shift like? How does it normally go for you?" DS: "I suppose so far the most extreme I can talk about was the arrest of Roy Morhaim, the one that assaulted Ms. Ray of the Gazette. Thankfully she's okay, and he was put behind bars. Well, most days are relatively mundane, thankfully. Paperwork, monitoring the radio in case of a call, and patrols with my FTO. Regular problems are mostly people getting riled up and getting into fights that we have to break up, and other miscellaneous decisions of the moment that get people into a bit of trouble" Dahlia Halsten is a member of the APD, a recruit just coming onto the force. But she's already inspired testimonials from Ashmore citizens. She was the first person to welcome this reporter to Ashmore when she stopped to check on me as the winter weather was blowing in. There are many stories concerning America's struggle with systemic racism, police brutality, and the reforms necessary for a fair and equitable society. But it is also important, when considering the broader strokes of societal ills to remember the individuals who are on the front lines trying to help. An anonymous citizen described Dahlia Halsten in words that are better than I could ever craft: ""Dahlia is kind. Dahlia is good. She is tender, loving, like family. She's never mean and she doesn't hurt. Dahlia is a safe person. Put that in the story please."

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