Spencer, IA police chief reflects on 38-year career
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SPENCER, Iowa (KTIV) -
"Here is a man who is community-minded and will give anything for the community," remarked Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson of retiring police chief, Mark Lawson.
Over the years there have been many highlights Mark Lawson. He said his favorite was attending the FBI National Academy.
"It's hard to get in to. Only 1/10th of one percent of law enforcement get to attend that,” said Lawson, adding that he got in on his first try.
Like anyone in law enforcement, Lawson has also seen his fair share of tragedy.
"There's certain things you never forget,” reflected Lawson.
Part of the last graduating class of Sioux City's Central High, Lawson said his career on the police department almost ended before it began, when a domestic dispute turned deadly.
"He called up here and said, 'get your guns ready boys, I'm coming.’ By the time I turned around and got here, he'd exited the vehicle and they'd locked the building down. He was armed and he was firing rounds,” recalled Lawson.
Lawson was ordered to stand guard outside the evacuated police station.
"Almost praying to God, don't let this guy come out my door,” remembered Lawson.
Lawson said the biggest change during his almost four decades on the force, has been technology.
"We didn't have cages in our cars, we have cages now. Cell phones were not even in existence, body armor, in car cameras, portable radios, we had no portable radios at that time,” said Lawson.
Though the tools have changed, the job hasn't.
"It's still boots on the ground that still answer the call,” Lawson pointed out.
Lawson said his favorite part of the job is also what he'll miss the most.
“It'd be the people. I mean, they're great,” Lawson said.
And when the city hires a new chief, he or she will have big shoes to fill.
"Mark has just been a super individual and a super chief for us. He will greatly be missed,” said Peterson.
Lt. Mark Warburton will fill-in during the interim, as interviews for the role start at the beginning of May. Peterson hopes to have a recommendation for a new chief to the city council by mid-June.
Lawson will continue to be involved with the police department over the next few months.
He's staying on as a volunteer, helping get Spencer's new law enforcement center ready for the department to move in.
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