One Airman, Global Impact | Tech. Sgt. Mark Parker

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Timm Huffman
  • HQ RIO Public Affairs

 When Tech. Sgt. Mark Parker first enlisted as a security forces Airman in 2001, he already knew his long-term goal was to become a civilian law enforcement officer.

After four years on active duty, which included a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was ready to pursue his goal, but didn’t want to let go of the military.

“The Individual Mobilization Augmentee Program gave me the opportunity to have both,” said Parker.

He left active duty in 2005 to become a Prescott, Arizona, police officer. At the same time, he joined the Individual Reserve, where he now serves as the IMA non-commissioned officer in charge of training with the 673rd Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

As a civilian, Parker is assigned to the traffic safety section of the Prescott Police Department as a motorcycle officer and says he “absolutely loves it.” His focus is on enforcing traffic laws, but has developed a personal penchant for identifying and stopping impaired drivers.

He said that impaired driver enforcement has become a passion and he has tailored his education toward DUI and drug enforcement. He is a certified standardized field sobriety test instructor, drug recognition expert instructor, and law enforcement phlebotomist.

In his decade-long career with the Prescott PD, Parker has personally apprehended over 400 impaired drivers and assisted in the investigation of hundreds more.

He is also a certified traffic crash reconstructionist, responsible for investigating traffic accidents that resulted in serious injury or death. His team of investigators analyzes evidence from serious crashes, looking at everything from skid marks to car crush zones, and then reconstructs the scene to determine how the crash occurred and if a crime was committed.

He brings these finely-honed skills to the security forces Airmen at Elmendorf. During his annual training time, he will typically host different schools for his Airmen, such as how to utilize speed measuring devices and identify impaired drivers. He also teaches the Standardized Field Sobriety Test course, which certifies Elmendorf’s patrolmen to administer sobriety tests to potentially impaired drivers.

“I really enjoy teaching and interacting with the new Airmen,” he said. “It’s very rewarding, knowing that I am able to provide the Air Force with no-cost training, and the patrolmen are always so motivated to go out and apply what they have just learned. It reminds me of myself when I was on active duty.”

In addition to training his Airmen, he also counsels those who are thinking about getting out of the service to consider the Individual Reserve. He said most don’t know about the program and its benefits, like education, training, experience and travel opportunities.

For Parker, though, the flexibility of the Individual Reserve tops his list of reasons for loving his career as an IMA. He said that as a law enforcement officer, the set drill schedule traditional reservists adhere to wouldn’t work with his civilian career.

“If it weren’t for the [flexibility of the Individual Reserve] program, I don’t think I would be able to stay in the military,” he said.

Another benefit at the top of Parker’s list is that he can see his contribution to the fight.

“I like knowing that every time I come out, I can make a direct impact to the active duty mission,” he said.

IMAs are Air Force Reservists assigned to active-duty units and government agencies. They are managed by Headquarters Individual Reservist Readiness and Integration Organization, located at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, and serve over 50 separate major commands, combatant commands and government agencies.

Unlike traditional Reservists, who are assigned to Reserve units that regularly perform duty together, IMAs work with their active-duty supervisors to create a custom duty schedule that helps their unit meet mission requirements.