Editor's Note: This is the fourth of four articles from a series of interviews with some of the Mendota Heights Police Department's most experienced officers. The series will run this week, in honor of the department's 50th anniversary.
The Mendota Heights Police Department was established 50 years ago, and part-time patrol officer Jerry Murphy has been with the department for almost as long.
“It’s been a good ride,” said Murphy.
Not long after the MHPD was created, Murphy responded to multiple emergency incidents, such as fires and inclement weather, as a citizen. It was then that Mendota Heights’s original chief of police, Marty Baldwin, recruited Murphy as the department’s first volunteer officer.
Today, Murphy oversees the MHPD Reserve Officer program as a volunteer captain.
Over the decades, Murphy has seen the department grow and change. MHPD’s first squad car was a station wagon that doubled as an emergency transport vehicle, a far cry from the tech-laden law enforcement vehicles of today.
Murphy also said that the department’s prioritization of training and education has changed. Most officers entering the force today have at least four years of post-secondary education.
“It’s exciting to see all the changes, the improvements,” said Murphy.
Murphy has been involved in his share of dramatic moments during his time on the force.
In one particular incident, Murphy assisted in apprehending a man suspected of gun theft.
One morning, Murphy, who managed the Somerset Golf Course for 41 years, was approached by a Somerset employee who reported that he saw a man jump the course fence. The man was wearing red pants, a blue shirt and was wet up to the knees.
Murphy recalled hearing sirens and helicopters earlier that day, and telephoned the chief to inquire whether the employee’s sighting could be related to the noise.
The chief responded that the man on the course should be considered armed and dangerous.
Murphy acted quickly, dispatching golf course vehicles to keep the suspect under observation while waiting for backup.
When an MHPD squad car arrived, the suspect ducked behind the bushes, and had to be coaxed out at gunpoint.
The man, who was suspected of stealing three guns and had previously escaped arrest, was apprehended.
After the suspect’s arrest, Murphy followed his tracks and found the gun in question hidden in the brush of the golf course.
“You just feel good that you were able to help out,” said Murphy.