Tom Mosher has spent his career in law enforcement, and as he prepares to end that career, he recently reflected on his experiences. After serving as the entire police force for Fountain and Ostrander, and working with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s office, he has many favorite memories to talk of.
When asked the question of why he is retiring, Tom explained that his pension makes it possible, stating, “I guess one of the big things is, we’re fortunate in law enforcement. We’re in the PERA (Public Employee Retirement Association), so for fire fighters and law enforcement, we’re able to retire at 55.” He added, “The other thing is…the increase in technology usage. I hate computers, and everything is going with computers in our squad cars, signing up for classes,…”
He said he had considered just cutting back, possibly working for only one city, “But then, I’d still have the same amount of training, and I’m still ‘The Guy.’ So even when we’re riding motorcycles, or we finally get our family together for Easter dinner,…about the time everybody sits down, I get a call with a domestic or a car accident, and away I go. So I made the decision to be totally done.”
When asked about the main challenges and rewards of his job, Tom explained, “Law enforcement is a tight knit family…when we go in, we’re basically putting our lives in the line for each other.” He said being the entire police force for a small town has unique rewards and challenges. He describes himself as “old school” and said he believes in handling most issues in a simple, hands-on way, such as simply going and talking to someone who needs to clean up a yard to be in compliance with the “junk ordinance.” Tom said since he deals with people in a friendly, direct manner, he tends to get that reciprocated. He adds, “We’re fortunate here in Fillmore County that we still get quite a bit of respect from the people we serve.” He also pointed out that he’s a jack of all trades, adding that both cities have allowed him to bring the squad cars home. “And, I do almost all of my own maintenance work. I do tire rotations, change oil, brake jobs, minor stuff like that.” He also told of one winter when he and the mayor took care of snow plowing after the city’s maintenance position became vacant.
Asked what he likes best about his job, Tom said, “I think most officers would probably respond the same way. I would say it’s the satisfaction you get when you help somebody. It can be as simple as helping some lady get her groceries in the house…or taking some young kids out of a super-abusive house and knowing they’re now safe.”
He said he may consider re-applying at some later date to do transports only (transporting suspects or prisoners to court dates or to other jurisdictions). He said the big advantage to that would be he could work when he was available, and “When I’m done, I’m done.”
He explained that it’s tough for any city to find an experienced officer willing to be the entire police force, because of the time commitment. He said possibly a young officer would be interested in such a gig, as a way of getting experience, but they’d likely move on after a short time, meaning the city would have to search for someone all over again. He added, “When I started in Fountain eight years ago, I was the only one in the state of Minnesota that was a part-time police chief in two towns at the same time.”
Tom said citizens often complain about “soft penalties” handed down to convicts, and he wishes the public would understand the glitches in the justice system which sometimes cause these apparent injustices. He explained, “People blame law enforcement, they blame attorneys, they blame the judge. The problem is all of us have to follow the law. The judge has guidelines too.” He said in today’s world, social media causes a lot of these situations to go viral. He encouraged anyone wondering about such a situation to ask any law enforcement officer why things probably happened the way they did.
One of Tom’s favorite stories, ironically, involved a painful mistake. He shared that, during a domestic disturbance, as the officers were trying to arrest the suspect, “We explained why he was going to be arrested, and he started to tense up…there were two county deputies and I…we told him not to fight with us, and pretty soon he was trying to pull his arms out, so one of the officers used his taser, which when you’re at that close range, you just put it right on them, and he said if you don’t go to the ground, I’m going to tase you…So I had ahold of him with my arm on his shirt, and when he pulled his trigger, that guy must have turned, and both probes went through my fingers, and I got 50,000 volts! And finally, we got him down on the ground and got him handcuffed, and the suspect started apologizing!” Tom said many people enjoy bringing up this incident with him, and he shares a good laugh over it now.
Tom does not plan to sit idle in retirement. He has a number of rental properties, and said, “I’m able to do a lot of things. I’m really handy, I can do plumbing and some electrical and carpentry.” He also looks forward to spending time with his family and riding his motorcycle with his wife. When asked for her thoughts, she said, “Even the criminals like him. We can be out anywhere, and they just like Tom!”
But Tom’s own words can probably best summarize his career and sentiments as his retirement date draws near. Tom wrote a letter to the cities of Fountain and Ostrander, as well as Fillmore County, which stated, in part, “I have been planning on retirement for some time. I am looking forward to working much less, working when I want, and where I want or not at all… I would like to thank all citizens… that I have protected and served for over twenty years, for their support and friendship… I have lived in Fillmore County all my life and will continue until my life is done here on earth… my last day of work will be September 29, 2017.” It seems clear that the consensus in Fillmore County is that Office Mosher deserves a hearty thanks for all he’s done.