Photo by Daniel Warn: Saul Duran
Photo by Daniel Warn: Saul Duran

As a former military police officer and a Washington State Patrol officer, Saul Duran is no stranger to protecting this country's communities, big and small.

That's why Eatonville Police Department hired his as a new officer Friday, Aug. 16.

"Eatonville is a beautiful town — small," Duran said. "It's just a tight-knit community. And so I get the ability to help people out. I believe that, in law enforcement, we should not only enforce the laws, but help people change their way of doing things."

He served nine years active duty in the Army, and he still serves in the Army Reserves. After the Army, he spent seven years with the Washington State Patrol.

This experience was celebrated on the Eatonville Police Department Facebook page in am Aug. 21 post, which touted all of his experience as a win for the town.

"Officer Duran says he wants to serve Eatonville because of our hometown feel and the opportunity to interact with the community," the post states.

Duran said that law enforcement is an opportunity to help people out, not just chastise them.

Specifically, Duran said that in a small town like Eatonville, he will be able to make a correction, and then follow through with that correction as he continues to encounter and work with area residents. Simply put, he will be able to establish a kind of accountability between the people he is serving and the correction they may have to make.

"When you follow through with that correction, especially with the younger crowds, they see that you do care," Duran said. "And at the same, they see that you are serious about making that change."

One of the corrections that Duran will gladly work to fix, would be the prevalence of those wishing not to wear their seat belts.

"Not wearing your seat belt is pretty much just being selfish…" Duran said. "It's the state law. Whether you like it or not, that's just the way it is… The reason why I say that not wearing your seatbelt is selfish is that you're pretty much telling your family, 'You know what? I really don't care what happens.'"

Duran said that he wants to help people make that change, help them see their own worth and maybe inspire them to protect themselves as best they can.

"You are important to us, as the community, because when somebody dies it affects the community," Duran said. "It affects the law enforcement officers, the first responders — everybody who was involved — and most importantly your family. When your family is affected by it, we all suffer."

He said he will use all forms of correction, depending on the situation, ranging from issuing a warning, giving a lecture or even ticketing the offender.

The goal, Duran said, is to make the community a better and safer place to live. While he said he cares deeply about the fate of those who could lose their lives for not wearing a belt, he is also committed to upholding all that the law specifies, and will not simply target one type of offense.

For Duran, the primary objective is to help Eatonville flourish as a safe, protected community, he said, adding that he doesn't want to be a stumbling stone for anyone.

"Eatonville has already opened up their arms to me, and they've already accepted me," Duran said. "They've shown me that there are a lot of people saying, 'Thank you for what you do,' or giving us the 'thumbs up' … I think Eatonville will be a good fit for me. I hope that I do a good job and at the same time, be able to stand firm in what I believe in and how we do business."