When I worked at a church, the youth director there decided to go back to school to become a cop. After training in Rochester he got a job in Fairmont.

While he was still a candidate for the position, he told my co-workers and me there would probably be someone coming by wanting to talk to us. Someone did. It was a lengthy one-on-one in the conference room.

I don’t recall everything we talked about, maybe partly his work style (he did tend to procrastinate), maybe his leadership skills (I believe he was good about getting input to make decisions). I do recall saying I thought he’d be the “quintessential” community police officer. (Perhaps partly because I like that word — named one of my horses Quintessence, called her Quinn.)

I think I mostly meant he’d care enough to get to know people. The interviewer put down his pen at that point and closed his notebook.

When I was the newsroom clerk at RiverTowns, I’d occasionally fill in covering “the beat” in Red Wing. After getting buzzed into the media room, I’d hurry to look over the papers on the table for incidents where reports were made in anticipation of additional details.

If I was told, “the city has something” it was often the chief who came in, sat down on the other side of the table and provided details of what items were shoplifted, or the extent of the property damage or other specifics on wrongdoings.

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I was impressed that he often knew people well enough to make a humanizing comment such as on someone’s pattern of speech, or choice in clothing, or correct me on the pronunciation of a name. He was also deft and kind about reaching across the table and pointing out the right report number I was scrambling to find while he was reading small print upside down.

He was at a community workshop on poverty, he was sorry he missed the presentation on tribal justice (where someone’s sentence was to catch enough fish for his village to survive the winter) and remembered the name of those gas stations sandwiches you’d heat up in a microwave (the salty meat, the melty cheese, the poppyseeds on top) when the miscellaneous food items taken from a local establishment were listed and I felt a need to reminisce.

At a local breakfast buffet back when such things existed, I noticed a particularly neat set of shirt and jacket cuffs on the other side of the sneeze-guard, momentarily distracting me from landing the tongs on a mini cream puff. Chief said he thought he’d seen me come in and greeted me by name.

When I look forward to society opening up and being able to say to people in church “... And also with you,” I also look forward to the service and goodwill of peace officers offering to help create community.