Longtime police officer Jewel Ericson retires
There isn't always a clear sign when it's time to retire. Sometimes, it's just a feeling that now is the right time.
Rosemount police lieutenant Jewel Ericson has that feeling now. It's why he's ending a nearly 28-year police career he spent entirely in Rosemount.
Ericson grew up with police work in his family. His grandfather was a sheriff in southern Minnesota, and his grandmother was a sheriff's deputy. His grandfather on the other side was a police officer for a short time.
"It sparked my interest as a child, and I never lost that interest," he said.
He got his first police job 27 years, 10 months ago in a Rosemount that looked very different than the the city does today. There were eight officers in the department and the city had a fraction of its current population. Ericson liked the city because it had the small-town feel Shakopee had when he was growing up in that city
"I enjoyed the community," he said. "I enjoyed the size at the time. You were able to connect with the citizens on a more personal basis and get to know the people you served."
Things have changed over the years. The city and the department both got bigger, and it got harder to know all of the people you dealt with on a day-to-day basis. The calls police responded to didn't necessarily change - there have always been assaults, drunk drivers, thefts - but there were more and more of them.
As with any job, there were good days and bad. Ericson has had to notify families of a loved one's death, or deal with assaults on children.
One day Ericson said he will always remember happened in October of 2002, when he and another officer were responding to a domestic assault call. Witnesses had told police Shane Lynner, a familiar face to police, was beating his wife.
Ericson pushed his way into the bedroom and Lynner swung a bat at him, narrowly missing his head and hitting his hand. Then, Lynner charged, the bat raised over his head. Ericson shot and Lynner, 38, died at the scene.
A grand jury later cleared Ericson of any wrongdoing. It is the only officer-involved shooting Rosemount has had.
That call and others stick with Ericson.
There are plenty of happy memories, too. Even as Rosemount grew Ericson tried to maintain a connection with residents. He would visit the city's senior apartment buildings.
And he always loved working with his fellow officers.
"It's the camaraderie that the police department has and the relationships over the years with the officers," Ericson said. "The time spent with the officers in the department and moreso probably early on in my career we were one big family."
Police chief Eric Werner said Ericson has made significant contributions to the department over the years. Ericson has been recognized by MADD for his efforts to combat drunk driving, and he has attended high-level leadership training. He has been part of the department as it nearly tripled in size.
"Those are all admirable accomplishments," Werner said. "I'm losing 28 years of experience."
Still, everyone finds that right time to step back.
"It was time to retire," Ericson said. "Everyone finds that day where it wasn't as enjoyable to go to work as it had been in the past. I think the time had come that it was time to leave."
Ericson doesn't have any big plans for his retirement yet. He's easing into things. He's taken a couple of vacations since he left the department July 12. He's gone camping. He plans to spend time with family without the stress of police work in the background.
And if another opportunity presents itself, he may take advantage.
"I've had a blast in my career," he said. "I've enjoyed my entire career. I've enjoyed meeting and knowing the people of Rosemount. I've enjoyed serving them."