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St. Ignatius gets new police officer

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ST. IGNATIUS – When St. Ignatius Police Officer Patrick Nobles patrols the town, he envisions a time when people didn’t have to lock their doors.

“I’d like to see this community go back to that,” he said. “Is it feasible? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try.”

Officer Nobles started working for the Mission Police Department in December 2015. He was officially hired by the St. Ignatius Town Council on Jan. 5 as the town’s second officer with direction from Police Chief Matthew Connelly. Nobles is currently working on moving to the area with his wife and kids, and he plans to stay in the position as long as possible. 

“I told the council when I started that I wasn’t looking to get rich, but I need enough to support my family. If I can do that, I’m more than happy to stay,” Nobles said.

Nobles worked for the Ronan Police Department for six years before moving to the Mission Department. He said he wanted to see what he could do for the small community.

“I’d like to eventually meet everyone in town and hear their concerns,” he said. “If anyone has any issues about anything, call me. Let me know how I can help.”

And he really likes small towns.

“I lived in Vegas once,” he said. “I only lasted three weeks. It’s a different mindset in the city. I like small towns where you can say ‘hi’ to people and talk to your neighbors.”

Nobles grew up in Polson. 

“My grandfather was the Polson Fire Chief when I was a kid,” he said of Gene Nobles. “I’ve always been around emergency services.”

He remembers his grandfather telling him that a good firefighter can get into his gear in minutes, so he would often try to make that time. He grew up to volunteer with fire departments and search and rescue services.

“I’ve been in a burning building and helped with car crashes,” he said adding that he enjoyed helping with those services; but what he really wanted to do was to become a cop. “As an officer, I get more calls to try and help people. I love that. I love this profession. It’s getting up in the morning and not knowing what you’ll be doing.”

He also likes being part of an extended family.

“From my experience, everyone is there for each other from highway patrol, county, city departments and tribal,” he said. “It’s like a family.”

Nobles almost didn’t become a cop. He worked in several odd jobs that mostly included construction after high school. An unemployment grant from one of those jobs gave him two years of free education.

“They said I could become anything I wanted,” he said. “I thought about underwater welding, but I really wanted to be a cop, so I went to the police academy.”

But the job is dangerous. 

“You have to know what you are getting into,” he said. “My wife supports me even though I don’t tell her everything. I don’t want her to worry.”

Nobles also says that police officers constantly evaluate their decisions in a matter of seconds, and they have to consider the public’s perception of those decisions.

“There is a lot to think about in a short amount of time,” he said of responding to an incident. 

And the job isn’t suited for everyone.

“To do this, you have to ask yourself if you can be that person that can run towards gunfire when others are running away,” he said. “If you are the type to freeze up in a situation, you won’t be able to help.”

Officer Nobles has one request of the general public. 

“You might not like cops, but we are needed, so give the officers a chance to help,” he said. 

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