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Amazing Member Eric Rykal


Meet Eric Rykal, a detention officer at the Jefferson County sheriff’s office, based out of Boulder. He’s also president of his MEA-MFT local, the Federation of Jefferson County Employees.



Eric & son Wade, age 4.


What I do: I’m a full-time detention officer. I also help with dispatch. I work a lot of overtime because I’m cross-trained. The job can be anything from dealing with accidents on the pass when it snows, to housing 21 prisoners at the jail.


We deal with people who get arrested for felony DUI, illegal immigrants being held before deportation, etc. We also hold prisoners for the U.S. marshal--anything from embezzlers to people who shot someone in a drug deal.


Busiest days on the job: A busy day can involve a bust on a construction site, where we might be dealing with 12 illegal immigrants at a time. Or it can be a big snowstorm on the pass, when I handle overflow calls, helping the dispatchers. All 911 calls come through our office.


Why my work matters: We help keep the community safe and the streets safe. Our officers are out there keeping criminals off the street. If we weren’t there, they’d be right back on the streets doing the same thing they were doing.


My family: My wife and I have four kids: Dalton, age 8, Brieanna, age 9, Braden, age 12, and Wade, age 4.

What I do for fun: Hunting and fishing. My wife basically becomes a hunting widow this time of year. I work a second job at a video store to help pay for gas for hunting. I’m also a middle school football coach.


We planted a big vegetable garden this year – 30 feet by 100 feet. We can vegetables to last through the winter – corn, beans, etc. We also sell at farmers’ markets, plus a restaurant in Boulder buys our produce.


Why I belong to MEA-MFT: Where we work, the commissioners change every two years. You never know who you’re going to have as a boss. It’s really great to have a union to back us up. When you’re working 40-50 hours a week, it’s a lot of your life, so if you keep your job quality high, you’re going to be happier. If you’re happy at work, you’ll be happy everywhere. I’ve had jobs where I’ve made a lot more money, but I wasn’t happy.


Thanks, Eric, for doing Work That Matters for Montana's people!


Read about other Amazing MEA-MFT members.