HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Huntsville police officer is marking the the end of a long career in law enforcement. Officer Joe German has worked to leave a mark on the department and the community he serves.
He knows the streets of North Huntsville like the back of his hand because he's been patrolling in that part of the city for more than 29 years.
As he looks ahead to his retirement, he's also reflecting on his time on the police force.
"This job is very fulfilling. I love the job. I love the people I deal with," German said. "I guess the hardest part is going to be missing the people. In 29 years, I've come across a lot of good people in North Huntsville."
Through the years, he's worked all different shifts and has seen the job and the city grow and change. From chases to shootings and accidents and every other kind of call that's come across his radio, his caseload has been heavy, but rewarding. He's tried to help people on some of their worst days. He's also been a field training officer, taking some of the rookies under his wing.
"I've put 29 years into this. I love it. I feel bad leaving the profession because it's an honorable profession. It's something that not everybody can do. You have to have it on your heart," he explained.
For Officer German, training and mentoring some of the newest members of the police force has been very fulfilling.
"I call them my kids and I consider them part of our family and my wife does too because she knows all of them. Hopefully, part of me will be transferred to them and they will follow in my footsteps trying to do the right thing by the people of Huntsville," he stated.
German is originally from Iowa. He worked for Walmart in management and moved every six months. One of the last stores he worked at was in Fayetteville, TN so he became familiar with Huntsville in his travels. When he got tired of moving constantly, he learned that HPD was hiring and was attracted to the large community. On June 12, 1989 he became a police officer.
He's been working in North Huntsville his entire career with HPD. He also retired from the US Navy reserves after 23 years.
He's exploring several options after his time is up with the police department, but most of all, he's looking forward to spending time with his family, especially with his six year old granddaughter.
"My family is important to me. I set out to set a good example for them. All my children are doing well and that's the main thing. I think everything that I've set out to do, I've accomplished and it's just time to let some of these young kids that I've trained take over and do it themselves," German said.
He recently heard from a young man he who would always stop and talk to and encourage to steer clear from a life of crime.
"Every time I would see him when he was a young kid, I would tell him not to follow in his brother's footsteps because his brother was in prison. He said that because of me haggling him, he couldn't do what the streets were trying to get him to do," German added.
The man now works for the Department of Correction in Kentucky, mentoring inmates and tells them about "Officer Joe."
"I'd like to think that legacy is going on with him and he's teaching young kids in prison that there are alternatives to street life. It's a positive and it makes me feel good," German said. "If I can save one life, keep one person out of prison, then it was all worthwhile."
He has enjoyed his time serving and protecting the citizens of Huntsville.
"I love it and I will miss it," German added.
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