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Garber: Work in law enforcement can be challenging, rewarding

by Jeff Haldiman | January 16, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

The demands of law enforcement have been issues Tamara Garber has dealt with all her life, but has found work to be challenging and rewarding.

Garber, who is data specialist supervisor at the Cole County Sheriff's Department, started working in the sheriff's office right out of high school, doing work in the records department before attending the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg to get a degree in criminal justice.

She then worked for a police department in Kansas as a dispatcher before deciding to stay at home and homeschool her children.

When the children got older, Garber found she wanted to get back into law enforcement so she was hired back by Cole County to work in their support services and worked the night shift for seven years so she could help her children complete their education. She's now on the day shift, serving in her current position.

Now in her 11th year at the sheriff's department, Garber puts together much of the information that deputies use in the field. That includes warrants, along with information on stolen guns, autos and missing persons. Garber's department also is responsible for registering sex offenders and taking care of all the conceal and carry permits. The support services division is staffed 24 hours a day with three shifts.

"No day is the same," Garber said. "We have some people who we see on a regular basis, and sometimes it's their first time coming to the sheriff's department, and they might be facing a situation they've never faced before so we want to give everyone good customer service."

Garber grew up in a law enforcement family; her father was a Missouri State Highway patrolman and her mother worked for the Missouri Police Chiefs Association. Her son is a jailer with Cole County and her youngest daughter is a jailer in Callaway County.

"I found I liked the variety of situations you have to deal with," Garber said. "You're helping others, and you see people from all walks of life. Anyone of us could be any situation."

Garber said another aspect she likes is that you're never bored in law enforcement.

"Even though we're working in the office, the work we do affects the officers on the road," Garber said. "That's a huge officer safety thing. We want to make sure our information is accurate and get them the assistance they need."

All law enforcement agencies are currently challenged to find people. Garber said many people who are looking for a job want a 9-5 routine and that can't be found in law enforcement.

"We don't always get to have our days off, and that's something you have to weigh," Garber said. "I've done it for years (23 in all)."

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