Reprinted with permission of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
By Elizabeth Dohms
For as long as DaMarcus Zeroth can remember, he’s wanted to be a police officer.
He can’t say for sure exactly what motivated his decision. Maybe he got interested by watching police in action on television. He could also have been spurred on by hearing his father’s stories of his cousin who worked as an officer in Chicago or by doing police ride-alongs as a middle school student.
He just knew he wanted to help people, including his siblings.
“I have five little brothers,” he said. “I figured it’d be something they could look up to, to be a role model for them.”
Zeroth, 22, graduates today along with 748 other students in UW-Stout’s commencement ceremonies at Johnson Fieldhouse in Menomonie. Zeroth graduates with a degree in criminal justice and rehabilitation with a minor in Spanish.
He’s excited to graduate, he said, though he wasn’t waiting on a degree to start working.
Since September last year, the River Falls native has been working full time on overnight shifts for the Menomonie Police Department.
Menomonie police Chief Eric Atkinson said it’s not particularly common for the department to hire students and said most of the officers hired have completed either associate or bachelor’s degrees.
“DaMarcus is such a fine young man that we felt it was imperative to hire him,” Atkinson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Atkinson said it’s Zeroth’s hard work ethic and attitude that made him a desirable candidate.
“DaMarcus has an exceptional attitude, and he adapted to life as a police officer quite exceptionally,” he said. “Doing this while attending school is quite remarkable. We’re lucky to have him here.”
Zeroth said he was attracted to UW-Stout because of its applied learning environment, calling himself a “better hands-on learner.”
He’s applying lessons he learned in case management classes to writing up reports as part of his current workload. He also attended the Police Academy at Chippewa Valley Technical College, earning credits that were applied to his degree at UW-Stout.
Although Zeroth had planned on graduating last December, he was set back because he took a semester off once he began his full-time job. He later resumed classes that he fit into his full-time schedule.
Apart from time management, his full schedule poses other challenges, he said, such as running into students on campus who he’d arrested or issued a ticket to.
“I never had anyone say anything to me, but they’ll look at me and know,” he said.
Other times, he’s overlooked in favor of a veteran officer while out on calls, often being asked if he’s a training officer.
Still, he says he doesn’t let such things bother him.
In the short term, Zeroth would like to get involved in investigations once he’s had enough experience as a patrol officer.
Long-term plans might take him to graduate school for degrees in such fields as public administration or public service, or a master’s program that would allow him to teach.
Current plans are to stay in the area for a while.
“I enjoy it here,” he said about Menomonie. “I’m close to family and friends. It’s a small enough town but big enough where we stay busy.”
DaMarcus Zeroth, who earned a bachelor’s degree Saturday, Dec. 16, from UW-Stout in criminal justice and rehabilitation, has been working full time for the Menomonie Police Department since September 2016.