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Police department badges: Now and then

For three years John Hawkins served Rosemount as an auxiliary police officer. At the time there were only two officers, Hawkins and chief Norm Pederson, who worked during the week.

"I did it just on the weekends at night," Hawkins said of his time on the department.

Using his own car Hawkins would tool around town making sure doors were locked and the peace was kept. If there was an emergency he would put a red flashing light, powered by the cigarette lighter, on top of his car and go. When Hawkins started there were no radios in the cars so if there was an emergency he would have to go to the fire department to call the sheriff's department for backup.

"It was not a real efficient program," recalled Hawkins.

Thankfully it didn't have to be. Hawkins said there was very little crime in Rosemount back then. Every once and a while someone would break into a business or a fight would break out at a local bar but for the most part he said things were tranquil.

"Of course at that time we knew everybody in town so there never seemed to be any problems," Hawkins said.

Hawkins served as the auxiliary police officer from 1960 to 1962. He took the job to make extra money for his large family. Hawkins and his wife Jo have 12 children.

"I was always looking for extra income," said Hawkins.

In 1962 the police department bought its first car, a Ford, complete with radio. Hawkins said after his children would take their baths in the evening he would take them for rides in the fancy new car.

"They thought they were pretty foxy getting to ride in that car," said Hawkins.

Policing in Rosemount has changed a lot since his time on the force. When Hawkins served on the department there were only about 5,000 people living in Rosemount. When he was hired as the auxiliary officer he was handed a badge and a gun and told to keep the peace.

"I received no training at all," said Hawkins. "It was all based on common sense."

To really comprehend the informality of if all when Hawkins joined the force the only badges the department had said chief of police on them. Instead of getting him a new badge they simply scratched the chief off the badge.

Hawkins still has the old badge and it is what the Rosemount Police Department used as the basis for its sesquicentennial. For the next year all of the Rosemount police officer will wear the special badge in honor of the city's 150-year anniversary.

Detective Henry Cho volunteered to find an old badge to commemorate the special occasion. Looking through an old log book he found names of old officers. Unfortunately, most of them were dead.

A fellow city employee told Cho about Hawkins and he looked him up.

At 83 Hawkins is the oldest retired member of the police department. To honor his service with the department, Hawkins was awarded a sesquicentennial badge.

Although he enjoyed his time policing in 1962 Hawkins quit the department to pursue another part time job cleaning. Eventually that pursuit led to Hawkins Janitorial Service. Hawkins said the business turned out to be successful for the family. The Hawkins sold the business a number of years back.