Mark Warchol can’t let himself give up his police uniform completely just yet.
“It’s where my heart’s at, unfortunately,” the part-time Burnettown officer said. “When you get away from it, it drives you insane.”
The 30-year-old is still adjusting to being a part-time officer after leaving the North Augusta Department of Public Safety for a full-time job at Bridgestone earlier this year.
Warchol grew up in a police family, looking up at the shiny badge of his father, Frank, who worked at the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and North Augusta Public Safety. His future became clear as he rode in the cruiser with his dad and his dad’s friends.
In 2004, Warchol took his first step in his father’s footsteps as a firefighter for North Augusta before becoming an Aiken County sheriff’s deputy.
“He tried for a time to talk me out of it,” Warchol said of his father. “There’s no money in it and it’s a dangerous profession, but he knows where my heart is.”
He said he enjoys helping the community where he was raised.
“When your friends are being shot and shot at, it becomes about your family,” Warchol said of his decision to change careers. “I don’t want my wife to be without her husband, but it’s rough. It’s hard not to do this every day.”
The Bridgestone job comes with higher pay and a safer environment. He took a part-time job with Burnettown, where Police Chief David Paul Smith had to let 10 officers go and was down to one full-time officer.
Now he’s adjusting to a different kind of police work in a much smaller, non-24-hour force. Warchol said the department’s size makes it tougher to fully investigate crimes there – mostly drugs – than at his previous stops.
Smith said Warchol is an accomplished officer who has “real street smarts” and is dedicated to his job.
“If you find someone who has that, you have to hold on to them,” Smith said.