Conrad Pfeifer was teaching police officers before they finally convinced him to become one.
Pfeifer said years ago he was a public safety dive instructor instructing police officers across the country in scuba and dive techniques.
“I was training a lot of police officers and they said I should become one,” Pfeifer said. “I enrolled in the Allegheny County Police Academy and there were a lot of officers there that I had taught. So, that was interesting.”
After he graduated, he worked for the Pennsylvania Park and Capitol Police before becoming a Middlesex Township police officer a job he’s held for the past 17 years, and three years ago he became a detective for the Mars Borough Police Department. He said it’s two different facets of law enforcement.
“As a detective there is no set shift. I’m wearing plainclothes. There is no patrolling,” Pfeifer said. As a detective, he’s investigated an arson, child assaults and major thefts of equipment.
“When I’m on patrol (with the Middlesex Township police) I can get anything: traffic, domestic, credit card scams, neighbor complaints,” he said.
Each facet of police work has its attractions, he added. “With detective work, it’s not shift work, there’s more flexible hours.”
As a Middlesex Township officer, he said, “I like being in the community while on patrol.”
In any case, Pfeifer said, “With police work, there’s something different every day. I don’t like sitting all day making widgets.
“You don’t know if you if you will be sitting all day or running around all day. And I like being outdoors. It’s the nature of the work,” he said.
“In this profession, you can give a life, take a life or save a life,” he said.
Local police departments are facing the same staffing problems that plague fire departments and ambulance services, according to Pfeifer.
“There is a shortage of people who want to be officers,” he said. “Young people don’t want to get into it because of the lack of money it pays.”
Kent Shoemaker, who nominated Pfeifer for a Hometown Hero Award on behalf the Rich-Mar Rotary Club, said the community is a better place because of Pfeifer.
“I’ve just seen him over the past decade, the type of work he has done,” said Shoemaker, who is a paramedic at Quality EMS where Pfeifer serves as its director. The ambulance service covers Middlesex and Adams townships, parts of Forward Township, Callery, Valencia and Mars.
“He’s the one who organized the drill for the mass casualty response at Mars Middle School eight years ago. Every emergency agency in the county was involved,” Shoemaker said. “I know he goes into schools and talks with groups, with anybody who needs a police point of view.”
Pfeifer called his nomination for the award very unexpected.
“I think there are many more deserving, but it’s nice to think I might have made a difference,” he said.
“We don’t do it for the recognition or the pay,” he said of police officers. “It’s a calling. There is just something that is in the blood. It’s the same for every fire, police and EMS member.”