ROSEMOUNT - Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Rosemount Police Department believes this sentiment. In fact, officesr are taking action to chronicle the department’s history and compiling names of former officers.
“Our history is very important to us so we wanted to know who paved the way for us and who are our forefathers in law enforcement and hopefully we will have something to memorialize that,” said Sgt. Jeremiah Simonson, who has been on the police force for more than 16 years.
Police Chief Mitchell Scott assigned Simonson this police history project a year ago so the work will be ready to go when a new police headquarters becomes reality in the next few years.
“We had a facilities taskforce that ended last year and it made recommendations to the city and we are working with the council and city administrator to try to figure out the needs and how long do we want to be there and we are in the early, early stages of it,” Scott said.
“We would like that project to move along more swiftly but it will take to formulate what sized building, where it will be located, and how it should be built to serve the residents in future years,” Scott said.
When a new police headquarters are built, these details and names could be part of a memorial wall installation or the newspaper articles and photos could be framed to educate residents.
“We do know we had a police officer killed in the line of duty in 1923 who was recognized in the national monument in the Washington, D.C.,” Simonson said.
John Francis McDermott was killed by friendly fire from an attempted burglary and robbery in town.
Inviting the public to share pieces of Rosemount history that may have come from family who worked for the police department, Scott said, “Sometimes things get thrown away and you lose them forever.”
Simonson considers himself to be a history buff who collects police badges. When asked to help compile the department’s past, he was excited to take on the project.
This project has involved research online, at the library and talking with members of the Rosemount Historical Society. He combed through city records and human resource personnel records to compile officers’ names.
He learned how back in the late 1850s when Minnesota became a state, the justice of the peace was Andrew Keagan, who also was one of the city’s founders.
“I searched old newspapers and the Library of Congress online and I found very little information,” he said. He even joined ancestory.com
“I was a little frustrated but then I met with the Rosemount Historical Society and they shared a lot of feedback,” Simonson said, giving thanks to all the members, but especially Maureen Bouchard.
“I searched through the pages and made copies and scanned the names to store on the computer,” he said.
Now he is building a police history archive.
John Loch with the Rosemount Historical Society shared his copies of old newspapers.
“He has every copy of the Dakota County Tribune newspaper going back to 1884,” Simonson said. He has read up to the year 1942.
“By doing that with the newspapers, I have come up with officers’ names going back to 1884,” he said.
“I have quite a long list of Rosemount police officers going back 134 years, and I have personally talked to nearly every licensed police officer who has worked here since 1970,” Simonson said. He emailed or talked with them on the phone and spoke with family members.
“Some even reached out to me on social media and I appreciate the feedback,” Simonson said.
“It is so much different now than it was and I actually kept a timeline because you can see how world events impacted Rosemount events,” Simonson said.
For example, the Great Depression and World Wars impact local public safety, Simonson said.
“During Prohibition, Minnesota was kind of the safe haven for organized crime and Minneapolis and St. Paul were like the Las Vegas of the Midwest,” he said.
“Trickling out into the county areas, there were rural alcohol stills on farms and people traveling through this area, and there were actually some shoot-out in our streets,” Simonson said.
A gun squad comprising former World War I soldiers who were on call to serve as night cops in Rosemount and would respond to the sound of alarms.
“There was a Night Watch that came out in the 1920s and 1930s,” Simonson said.
“Back in the 1880s, there were crimes of horse thievery and livestock and then it lead to cars, so the crimes reflect history,” he said.
He asks that families reach out with stories, artifacts or old articles, old pictures, shirts, badges and patches.
“I want any piece of history and even the bad stuff,” he said, adding “If you don’t know about it, then you are bound to repeat it.”
If anyone has information, artifacts or memorabilia to share, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect on the Rosemount Police Departments Facebook page.