A one women police force

Rhett Breedlove/LINGLE GUIDE Lingle Police Chief, Endra Andrews, continues to fulfill the duties of a police department for a whole town, entirely by herself.

LINGLE – The town of Lingle certainly personifies the classic notion of a peaceful, quiet Western town.

Out of state visitors would typically encounter a small town of roughly 400 people (when they are all in town), a pleasant local park and a few welcoming restaurants.

No, Lingle isn’t what would be considered a dangerous, crime-stricken town. From a resident’s point of view, a typical Lingle day consists of everyone dropping the kids off at the local schools early in the morning, heading off to work either in town or throughout the county, then head for home and family time before sundown.

As with any small and simple town or large happening city, there always has to be a police department on duty to ensure the peace and safety of every single resident.

While gargantuan cities like Los Angeles and New York are going to have somewhere in the vicinity of 40,000 on duty officers throughout a 24-hour period, understandably small towns have neither the need nor the reserves to have such a numbered force of law enforcement.

When it comes to the everyday environment of Lingle, the responsibilities of a police force fall on the shoulders of one single woman.

That woman is 14-year veteran and Lingle Police Chief, Endra Andrews.

Once again, from a resident’s point of view, the town of Lingle is mostly quiet and peaceful. However, when all the responsibilities of a town police department rests on one single person, it takes a very rare kind of human being willing to do an already tough and stressful job.

As Lingle begins the transition of ending the busy summer months, while preparing for the oncoming winter, Andrews consistently works long and extensively to ensure the wellbeing of her local residents.

Reflecting on the past months of the summer season, Andrews feels despite being just a one-person police force, everything fell very evenly within her jurisdiction.

“This summer went really, really well,” Andrews began. “Sturgis was very slow through here, so we didn’t have a lot of issues with motorcycles. Actually, we never really do have issues with motorcycles. They stop, get gas and go through, but there were not a whole lot of them.”

Being the sole police officer of a town of several hundred people, keeping all residents safe can be a tall, sometimes dangerous order at times for Andrews. With out-of-town drivers headed into Lingle at high speeds, residents needing assistance with various problems throughout the day and the occasional weekend rowdiness, Andrews can only be in one place at a single time.

With the tragic loss of life from highway accidents in Goshen County recently, Andrews noted community members must be aware and vigilant when operating their vehicles, whether in town or headed onto the surrounding highways.

“We can’t control someone else’s behavior,” Andrews said. “People I have noticed are not necessarily focused on their driving and not so attentive. You always have to be aware of what’s going on around you. I don’t know what’s going on in your car, but I know what’s going on in mine. That means I have to be paying attention and looking at the cars coming past me. At 70 mph, we need to be more patient first of all as drivers, while paying attention to what’s going on and following the speed limit. It’s not just an accident, so people really do need to be cognizant of their driving, what’s going on around them and how others are driving. We’ve had two major crashes in the county that were horrible. It’s horrible that it happened, and we all just need to be more cognizant of what we are doing when we’re behind the wheel. I think we all need to be better at our driving, and more considerate of other drivers. We need to be better because we can’t just control everybody else, but we can control us.”

As the county begins to head into the cold and dark winter months ahead, Andrews believes more community involvement is needed to ensure the safety, as well as the health and well-being, of the people of Lingle.

When elaborating on the meaning of community involvement, Andrews noted this doesn’t necessarily mean attending organized community events, but just more positive interaction on a casual basis.

“I hope that we can be considerate and compassionate for our neighbors,” Andrews said softly. “Snow on sidewalks come up every year, and I hope instead of complaining that someone’s sidewalks aren’t done, maybe we can offer some help. We don’t know what’s going on in people families. We have an older community, people who work a lot and maybe instead of pushing to complain we offer to help. For several years, I have shoveled sidewalks for older people because it needed to be done. I also hope we can be a little gentler with each other, and understanding across the board. We need to help each other and our kids.”

Andrews made sure to mention one other aspect of daily life. In recent years, she believes this one tends to be neglected in regard to the consideration of one another.

“People’s mental health seems to be hurt,” Andrews stated. “People aren’t in the best place mentally right now. We got so use to being able to come at people because we don’t have to face them. We have distanced ourselves from each other. We need to come together as a community, and really try and help each other. We need to make sure people have what they need to ensure they are doing well. When someone falters in this community, it affects all of us. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. You hear the gossip or what you perceive it to be, but maybe that person needs help. Maybe there is something going on. Maybe there is a reason their dogs keep getting out, maybe there’s a reason their snow isn’t shoveled, maybe there is a reason for them being loud in the middle of the night.”

Andrews finished with more words of compassion, stating that in order for community members to receive a better perception of understanding and compassion, town members must not be afraid to communicate more.

And in order for communication to happen, community members must not be afraid to peacefully engage face-to-face with one another.

“I would like to see more positive community involvement. If you notice that someone is having a hard time, see if you can help. Get to know the people that you live around. A lot of times, once you start talking to people with an open mind and hear their stories, they become a different person. If the neighborhood kids are driving you crazy, talk to the parents and get to know the them. I think we need to look more for the positive. I think it’s too easy to get into a focus that people are doing stuff to us, rather than how we should be reacting. We need to be kinder, gentler, patient and understanding. You need to have grace. We forget that when we are judgmental of people, that focus comes back on us, and people start looking at all our faults. The best way to magnify everything you are doing wrong, is to start pointing out everyone else’s failures. It seems it’s been very bad in the last couple of years. If we are more observing with kids, we can be proactive. If you see that there are kids out after curfew or running up and down your block, call and let’s talk about it. Let’s not wait until vandalism is happening, let’s talk about it. We need a lot more of if you see something say something. We need a lot more of knowing our neighbors. Maybe you can become friends and offer help. Maybe if there’s a young single mother you can be a mentor to her children. That doesn’t mean you have to bake cakes, but there’s all kinds of things you can do for the people in your community instead of being judgmental. Help and find out how. And maybe you can’t, but you at least tried.”

Andrews finished by clarifying the nature of her work in a very small town, once again remindful that her job as a certified peace officer is to uphold and protect the Constitution for the residents of a small community such as Lingle.

“My job is not to be used by one citizen to come at another citizen. My job is to protect and serve the entire community.”

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