Florence native Bronson Shipman returned to his hometown to become the City of Florence’s first police presence since officer Michael Stone left in July.
Shipman’s first official day on-duty was Oct. 7. He said the first call he answered was of a dog-at-large, and so far he has been busy.
“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer, even in my senior yearbook it says I wanted to be a policeman,” he said. “I’m excited to start my career where I grew up.”
Shipman had to complete 14 weeks of training at the police academy in Hutchinson before taking the position. He spent his time there studying law enforcement procedures, and doing physical training.
“The first few weeks were book work, the last were physical training like target training,” he said.
Cadets were also required to experience the effects of pepper spray before completing an obstacle course.
“The purpose was to teach us what it’s like to be sprayed, and for us to know what to expect in case we have to deploy it on the job.”
He hopes to never have to be in that position while on duty; instead, he hopes to be a role model to Florence’s younger generations.
“I want them to feel like I’m someone they can come to when they’re in trouble,” he said.
Shipman’s position brought his fiancée, Jennifer, and her two kids to Florence last year. They will be married next June.
“She’s excited I’ll be home every night. I had to stay Monday through Friday in Hutchinson while in training,” he said.
Shipman, however, is no stranger to being away from home for long periods of time. He joined the Army National Guard shortly after graduating from Marion High School in 2003, and has been deployed twice.
On his second deployment in Djibouti, Africa, he met Marion Police Chief Tyler Mermis.
“The first time I met him was in Africa in 2011,” Shipman said. “It was strange to meet someone there so close to home.”
He said Mermis has been helping him get settled in his new position.
“He and the Marion County Sheriff officers have been so helpful,” he said. “I am so lucky.”
Shipman said he is excited and nervous about his new career, and hopes to serve Florence well.
Florence Mayor Mary Shipman said Bronson has the support of not only other law enforcement, but from the community as well.
“The council and everyone is 100 percent behind him,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming and we’re excited to have him and think he will do a fantastic job.”
The new chief is the mayor’s great nephew. She said she stayed completely out of the hiring process for that reason.
“The council thought he would be the best for the job because of his local ties and his military background,” she said. “They thought he was the best out of the four or five candidates who applied for the position.”
She said Bronson is excited to get to work, and hopes that because he’s from the area he will stay in Florence awhile.
“We’ve had lots of people come and go over the years,” she said. “He’s got some great ideas about what to do in the community, and wants to work with the kids. I think he will stay with us for awhile.”