HENRY COUNTY — Henry County residents can look forward to meeting and getting to know two new additions to the county’s Sheriff’s Office.
Carlos Lopez Jr. and Jonathan Swaffer are excited to begin their positions as deputy sheriffs.
Lopez, a 29-year-old Houston native, made the move to Iowa to attend Iowa Wesleyan University, where he graduated with a degree in exercise science and wellness. He will be attending the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in late- April.
While working for the Sheriff’s Office may be Lopez’s first job in law enforcement, his foray into the profession is familiar grounds for him after having watched his father serve as a deputy sheriff in Texas for 26 years.
“I was able to see it from a child’s perspective and it was something I aspired to become,” he said.
As a child, Lopez said he observed his father’s “attitude toward others,” and his father’s desire to serve the community, something he is looking forward to doing in Henry County.
“I like that the sheriff’s office covers the entire county, so you’re not just in one place. You’re able to help the entire county and whole surrounding area,” Lopez explained.
In getting to know people outside of the Mt. Pleasant community and familiarizing himself with the county, Lopez added he’s found taking the time to listen to people has been helpful.
“The thing that I’ve found that has really helped me is not interrupting and letting them finish what they want to say, getting the whole story,” he said, “People skills are important and being able to communicate.”
The new deputy said in addition to serving the community, he’s most looking forward to “working as a team” with the other members of the office.
“Everybody here has everybody’s back and we’re all helping each other out and we’re in this together. I like that atmosphere,” Lopez said.
Swaffer, 23, who grew up in nearby Brighton, previously served as an officer with the Honolulu, Hawaii Police Department for two years before returning to Iowa for his position as a deputy sheriff.
“It’s a different role, but I like it better. It’s smaller so it’s a lot more personal,” Swaffer said, “It’s nice because it’s a smaller department and you can have a personal relationship with everybody you work with.”
Swaffer added he enjoys the “country mentality,” which he described as “we’re all family, we’re all neighbors, let’s all get along and help each other.”
Though Swaffer already has experience in law enforcement, he said he feels the biggest transition going into his new position will be with the availability of backup while on patrol.
“Where I was before, you pretty much always had backup. Even in the most rural part, your backup was maybe only ten minutes out. Whereas here, you may not even have it,” Swaffer said.
The new deputy sheriff also added he was glad to have been able to serve in a bigger city, which allowed him to explore new perspectives, but is now most looking forward to being able to patrol with people he knows.
“You get to help people that you know versus people you may have never met before and you may never meet again,” Swaffer said about working in Henry County.