After more than thirty years of service to his community, Police Chief Steve Hennigar retired on Friday, April 25.
Although Hennigar tried to quietly sneak out without much fanfare, his wife and his staff wouldn't hear of it. Hennigar's last day was celebrated with a party in his honor on Friday as friends and colleagues came to congratulate and reminisce with the retiring peace officer.
"It was nice to see the community come out like that," said Hennigar.
A life long resident of Clarion, Hennigar's love of law enforcement was developed as a child. Along with a positive relationship with Police Chief Doug Dean, Hennigar was influenced by his police officer neighbor, Cliff Downing.
Initially working for several years as a mechanic, Hennigar jumped at the opportunity to join the police department when a position opened in 1981. After ten weeks at the academy, Hennigar became a patrolman and started his climb up the ranks, eventually becoming police chief in 1993 following the retirement of his predecessor, Bob Shaw.
His first year as chief was an eventful one. Not only did Hennigar have to perform double duty as the ambulance director, he had to organize law enforcement for the city as it hosted thousands of RAGBRAI riders overnight.
"I got initiated pretty quickly," said Hennigar. "That was quite an event."
From managing crowd control for visiting bicyclists to working with dogs to cut down on drug activity, Hennigar has enjoyed his experience with the wide spectrum of police work over the years. Especially working out the puzzle of crime scene investigation.
"I enjoy the investigation part of law enforcement," said Hennigar. "Of course when I became chief I didn't get to do as much investigation work, but I liked to do it when I could."
Hennigar has seen many changes over the years in law enforcement. When he started the job, a radio was the pinnacle of police technology. Since then computers have taken over and record keeping requirements have grown with the technology to keep them.
"There's a lot more paperwork than there used to be," said Hennigar. "I thought it was bad when I started."
Although he has no specific plans for his retirement beyond enjoying an excess of free time, Hennigar is committed to staying in the community. He will miss the people and the police work, but is satisfied with the way his career unfolded.
"It's been a wonderful thirty-three years and I wouldn't change jobs for anything," said Hennigar. "We have a great bunch of officers and that makes it really easy for me to step down and retire because I know they'll keep the county safe."
Read more in the May 1 issue of the Wright County Monitor!