Being a police officer has to be one of the most stressful jobs out there — add fatherhood to the mix and it seems a recipe for stress. Platte City Sgt. Mike Mand has balanced the two and found a new calling in handling public relations for the Platte City Police Department.
Originally from Wisconsin, Mand started his Missouri law enforcement career at the Platte County Sheriff’s Office, working at the detention center. After about a year with the county, and while serving as a reserve officer for Platte City, he moved to the city when a full-time position became available. Now, 12 years later, Mand is one of two sergeants in the nine-officer department.
A father of two — a 13-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy — Mand said it is difficult to balance being a father and a cop.
“I try not to overreact to things,” he said, recalling responding to a call where a child was seriously injured during a Razor scooter crash. “I called my wife after that and said ‘our kids are never going to ride one of those without a helmet.’ You have to try not to let it consume you.”
Much like any father, he tells them to wear their seat belts, but unlike most has seen what happens when people don’t.
“It’s especially hard when it’s a call involving children,” Mand said. “You don’t want to become hyper vigilant and then your kids can’t do anything.”
Another side of his concerns are about how his kids may be perceived by their friends and classmates.
“They’re teenagers now, and I worried that their peers would have a problem with their dad being an officer, but it hasn’t happened yet,” he said.
During his years as a Platte City officer, Mand said he’s no longer surprised by any call, but some do stand out. In 2011, on Thanksgiving, police received a call about a wallaby bounding free in Platte City near Hillview Nursing Home. Noah the wallaby made national headlines that day, and earned himself a permanent place in Mand’s memory as one of his strangest calls.
While some calls are bizarre, others are just embarrassing. Mand recalled responding to a possible domestic assault with a female officer and just as she knocked on the door, he tripped up the stairs. When the suspects answered the door, they found him down on one knee with the female officer trying to catch him by the hand.
“It totally looked like I was proposing or something,” Mand said. “It’s not like you can explain it to them. You fall down sometimes — it happens. It was just perfect timing.”
Earlier this year, Mand was appointed Platte City’s public information officer during the tenure of interim chief Lynda Hacker-Bristow of the Sheriff’s Department. Previously, any media questions or inquiries from the public were handled by the chief of police and lieutenant.
“She (Hacker-Bristow) wanted to standardize that, and she felt my personality was suited to public relations,” Mand said, adding that he has known her since he attended the academy at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, where Hacker-Bristow was an instructor.
“Transparency is huge today and there is a time and a place for secrecy when you’re investigating a case, but otherwise people should know what’s going on,” Mand said.
Mand still works as a patrol officer and supervisor and said he intends to stay with Platte City for the long haul.
“We have an experienced force,” he said, praising new chief Joe Wellington for his leadership. “Everyone knows what they’re doing and the chief gives us the freedom to do the right thing.”