ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca Police officer is temporarily leaving the force to serve in the Army Reserves for the next 11 months.

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Officer Jordan Papkov, who has been with the department for nine years, is being deployed for the second time since joining the IPD.

Papkov, a Lieutenant Colonel for the 744th battalion, will work with soldiers to conduct military police operations abroad.

Papkov wears both military and police hats when it comes to law enforcement – something he says combines his desire to serve his country and his community.

“When I was a kid…I don’t remember this, but my grandfather said that I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement. He said I either wanted to be a firefighter or policeman,” Papkov said. “I love helping people.”

The Binghamton native joined the Army reserves directly out of high school in 1992. He served in the reserves while a student at the State University of New York at Brockport, before joining the Army as a full-time second lieutenant. He served in active duty from 1997 to 2004.

Lieutenant Colonel Jordan Papkov poses next to a patrol car while deployed in Germany.

During his time as a military police officer, he was stationed in Germany for four years and was part of the first Army troops to go to Kosovo after the conflicts in the latter 1990s.

He said as he was promoted though, he began having to do more administrative work than policing.

“I love working the road. As an officer you don’t work the road as much,” he said.

Lt. Colonel Jordan Papkov in Kosovo.

After he became a captain, he said he was faced with the tough choice of whether to leave the military or look for employment as a police officer in the civilian world.

He opted to do both as a reservist and police officer.

“I could still serve my country, but then I could also serve my community, which I thought was the best of both worlds,” he said.

He got out of the military in August 2004 and began a temporary position relieving a different reservist as an ROTC instructor at Cornell University. But within two months, he was called into active duty again.

“This is the time when things were heating up in Iraq,” Papkov said. He spent about a year training soldiers for deployment at Fort Drum beginning that fall.

When he got back to Ithaca, he said he kept looking for jobs as a police officer, but before he found one, was called into active service again in 2006.

Shortly afterward, he heard the Ithaca Police Department was hiring officers, a process that typically only happens every few years and is happening again this October. 

Despite being in active duty with the reserves, he applied, was interviewed and landed the job.

“That’s one of the great things about this department is there were other applicants that they could have picked that were readily available to take the post,” he said.

He was called into active duty again in 2009 and trained soldiers again for about a year.

Papkov said he’s thankful for the stability and support offered by the department over the past five years, but said he looks forward to the chance to work with soldiers again.

Lieutenant Colonel Jordan Papkov (far left) takes command of the 744th Military Police Battalion during a Change of Command Ceremony last weekend at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

“As an officer it is one of the best jobs you can have — commanding soldier. It’s a dream job,” he said.

Watching soldiers build their skills and and grow into their careers is something he said he enjoys, despite the fact that it can often leave him doing administrative tasks.

“I have never been one to sit behind in an office…I will get out of my office as much as possible to see how my soldiers are doing,” Papkov said.

Papkov declined to discuss the details of his deployment, citing safety concerns.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.