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Two new police officers hit the streets of Sunnyside

Sunnyside has two new police officers on staff, Joe Chiprez and Jason Gilbert.

The pair took to the streets of Sunnyside last week.

Both Chiprez and Gilbert are lateral officers, meaning they have both already served in law enforcement.

Chiprez served for the past four years with the Mattawa Police Department and Gilbert served as an officer for the Othello Police Department for about three years.

Both said they joined the Sunnyside Police Department because there are many opportunities to serve the community.

They each want to expand their skills and capabilities to become the officers the community needs.

Chiprez said he has a particular interest in helping the community combat gangs.

"Sunnyside isn't a big city, but it has opportunities for its officers that can be found in larger cities...like the gang unit, the detective unit and narcotics investigations," he said.

Gilbert, too, is interested in improving his skills as an officer. He said he likes the idea of one day becoming a SWAT team member, a member of the gang unit or the narcotics unit.

"I want to be a well-rounded officer and will look for opportunities to expand my abilities," he said.

Gilbert grew up in Royal City and said he was "bit by the law enforcement bug" when he went on a ride-along with a friend who was in law enforcement.

Gilbert joined the Othello Police Department three years ago. Because Gilbert doesn't live in the Othello area, he recently began looking for a position with a police department closer to his home.

Sunnyside advertised positions for two lateral officers a few months ago and he applied.

"I enjoy helping others, but even more I enjoy knowing each day will be different," Gilbert said of serving as a police officer.

Chiprez, too, likes the idea of serving others. "Law enforcement is a good chance to help people...it feels good knowing you have helped others," he said.

He first became involved in law enforcement, serving as an interpreter as a young boy.

Chiprez said he worked with officers throughout his young years and later joined the military.

Just more than four years ago one of the officers with whom he had worked throughout the years urged him to become a police officer.

Chiprez joined the Mattawa Police Department and said he enjoyed the work. However, the schedule made it difficult for his family.

"I have always liked the community of Sunnyside and it's close enough I decided to apply for a position when I learned the department was looking for new officers," he said.

Even though Chiprez has only worked in Sunnyside a short time, he said he has enjoyed the experience so far.

"I've never had the opportunity to attend the Cinco de Mayo festival before...I have always wanted to, but I was always working," he said.

This past weekend he had the opportunity to experience the event up close and personal. "It's great to see the community and surrounding communities come together for the festival," said Chiprez.

Gilbert, who talked to the Daily Sun News a few days prior to the festival, said he was busy learning the geography of the community.

He hadn't visited Sunnyside prior to serving as an officer and said he had to become familiar with the various landmarks, businesses and streets.

"It's a challenge," Gilbert said, adding it is a challenge he is enjoying.

The two officers are both eager and willing to get to know the community they now serve.

"I really like people," said Gilbert.

These two officers bring the Sunnyside police force staff to 29. Two more officers will be hired in the near future as the police department seeks to have a force of 31 in order to operate its gang unit recently approved by the Sunnyside City Council.

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