Editor's Note: This is the second 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.
When Patrol Sergeant Neil Garlock transferred to the from his previous position as chief of police in Alta, Iowa, he was among the younger officers in the department.
22 year later, he is the oldest fulltime officer on staff.
Garlock, a former marine, has seen the MHPD shift from a department of older officers with military backgrounds to a young, college-educated crew.
“A lot of those guys were prior military with no college,” said Garlock, of his colleagues from the early days.
As the department has changed and the decades have passed, Garlock’s career has hit many high points.
While working as an investigator, he once arrested four juvenile suspects within a week for committing $400,000 worth of vandalism at . The vandals threw computers and paint, broke glass and knocked over tables.
The following week, Garlock had another success, arresting two homicide suspects after six days of investigation.
Garlock’s time at the MHPD has also included its share of tragedies.
Garlock recalled the passing of his colleague, Jeff Menden, who died of septic shock from pancreatic inflammation only two days after showing symptoms. He was 33 years old.
“We all came together and we supported Jeff’s family,” said Garlock.
Garlock gives the impression that one of the department’s chief goals is to provide support to the entire Mendota Heights community.
“Our relationship with the community is outstanding,” said Garlock. “There’s no call too small, no call too big.”
Garlock pointed out that this is not the case with every police department. Some departments do not respond to or investigate low-loss thefts or check-forgeries and minor accidents.
However, for Garlock, who is now serving his 33rd year as an officer, policing is about ethics, making the right decision and treating people how you’d like to be treated.
“It’s all I’ve ever done,” said Garlock. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”