Pocatello Police Officer Ryen Smith woke Friday morning to find a pink sticky note on the bathroom mirror with a smiley face and a Valentine’s Day message.
“I love you! Stay safe.”
The sticky notes from his wife, Pauline, 29, are a regular occurrence — though sometimes they come with a “honey-do” list. In turn, Ryen, 28, often leaves candy bars on the dashboard of Pauline’s car to give her a pleasant surprise.
They both work for the Pocatello Police Department, though working in the same office doesn’t necessarily translate to spending more time together. While Ryen is a patrolman, Pauline is a police stenographer.
Their personal schedule usually works best when they take opposite shifts — as they did on Valentine’s Day — meeting briefly in the station parking lot to hand off their 2-year-old son James before going their separate ways.
When their schedules don’t align, they still find small ways to demonstrate their affection and to stay connected.
Working together certainly has its perks. Primarily, they have a mutual appreciation for the stresses they both encounter in a challenging field.
“It’s a unique set of stressors. There’s no other field like it,” Pauline said. “The things you see and do here you’re not going to experience in another field.”
Ryen said discussing certain calls with his wife outside of work helps him process stressful days.
“With her having access to all of the information I do, I think I can talk about stuff in greater detail than I think others could do with their spouses,” Ryen said.
Sometimes, Pauline jokingly needles her husband about the bad handwriting in his reports, or poor annunciation in his dictations. To keep work from dominating their home life, they have a self-imposed rule against discussing the job for more than 20 minutes in an evening together.
They also make a point of leaving town occasionally, especially for hiking trips. Furthermore, they make sure to have some separate hobbies, knowing there will be a lot of time when they’re working opposite schedules and must do things on their own.
They appreciate that the department promotes a family-first philosophy.
“Supervisors and administrators that you may not work for directly will stop and talk to you in the hallway and ask about family and how they’re doing,” Ryen said.
Pauline and Ryen first started dating in high school in Idaho Falls.
“I knew that I wanted to do law enforcement while we were going to college and was working in a graduate program with the end goal of trying to go in federal law enforcement,” Ryen said.
Pauline, who hadn’t planned on entering law enforcement, got her job at the Pocatello Police Department in 2015, before Ryen started his law enforcement career.
Pauline has an undergraduate degree in psychology and is pursuing a graduate degree to ultimately teach high school English.
Smith started working for the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office as a detention deputy in 2016. He joined the Pocatello force in August of 2019 and completed his training in time to start actively patrolling in December.
They both appreciate the department’s efforts to be involved in the community.
“It’s a very, very community positive place,” Pauline said.
She serves the department as a certified car seat technician and assists people in the community in properly setting up car seats. She said the department also stays active in community events for children from grade school through high school.