Officer Edgar Rodriguez is the police chief in Moville, Iowa – a small town of 1,800 people located a half-hour outside of Sioux City. The town is quaint and pastoral, surrounded by cornfields and soybean fields.
Rodriguez, a former Marine, is also known by another title there – “Pastor Edgar.” As the minister of Moville’s New Hope Evangelical Church, he is not just a guardian of the law, but is also a spiritual advisor.
“Being a police officer is more of an extension of my ministry,” Rodriquez said. “That’s exactly how I see it.”
CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan asked, “How do you think being a pastor makes you a better police officer?”
Rodriguez answered, “So, as a pastor, my focus is serving people. If I can’t love the community, love the people, then I won’t be able to serve them well.”
When asked about the ambivalent attitude towards police officers and whether police can have understanding and compassion, Rodriguez responded without hesitation.
“Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s not about taking people to jail every day. It’s about how we can help a person every day.”
Although Moville is a small town with only two gas stations and no stoplights, it doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done.
“We haven’t had a homicide, thank the Lord, in our town in a long time,” Rodriquez said.
However, he recently responded to a call by 78-year-old Bonnie Holts who was robbed of $1,400 dollars. He used his skills as a pastor to listen, comfort and offer a prayer.
“I love you, Bonnie,” Rodriquez said. “Lord, give her strength, give her strength and courage, Father God. Amen.”
“Thank you,” said Holts.
Officer Rodriguez has been in the role of chief for a year now, and has plans to change the way the town does its policing, starting with the uniforms.
“For a small town I just feel that it’s a little too tactical, too military,” he said. “I think we need to be a little softer.”
After an arrest, Rodriguez has to transport the suspect to a jail 30 minutes away. On the way, he uses the time to get to know the person he’s arrested and why they put themselves in the situation they are in.
“I want to know what they’re going through, and that’s how usually my conversations start – what made them get to the point where now they’re in handcuffs and they’re in the back of my car and they’re going to jail.”
For Agnes Bojoboj, it was a life-changing experience. When she realized he was also a pastor, she opened up to him.
When asked if he could have just stayed silent, his response was telling.
“Yes, I could’ve. I don’t think I would have felt very good about myself if I’d have just done that, knowing that I had an opportunity to help somebody, to encourage somebody. It doesn’t take much.”
Bojoboj now rarely misses one of his Sunday sermons and hasn’t committed a crime since. She represents the aim of Rodriguez’s work – to not just put people away, but to make them better in the process.