After more than 12 years with the department, Barron Police Officer Nathan Emmons retired Jan. 4.
It was a second career for Emmons, who served many years in the ministry, but an important calling nonetheless.
“God put me in law enforcement,” Emmons said. “I could never have done it on my own.”
Emmons served in ministry for 18 years before coming to Barron in 1999. He pastored for another 10 years, at First Barron and Grace Baptist in Cameron, before beginning a career in law enforcement. He went on to serve in various positions with the Barron Police Department, including more than a decade as a K9 manager.
Unbeknownst to him at the time, Emmons stepped into the door of his second career when he took on the role of chaplain for the Wisconsin State Patrol Spooner Post. The job was suggested to Emmons by his tae kwon do instructor, Jeff Arnold, who was also a state patrol officer.
In addition to his ministry, Emmons held various part-time jobs, including at Wiehe’s Hardware in Barron.
When a part-time job with the Barron Police Department opened up in 2005, his wife, Lynn, encouraged him to apply.
Of 13 applicants, Emmons was the only one who had no formal law enforcement training and was confused by law enforcement jargon during interviews. But in the points-based application process, he received the highest score from the candidates.
“God gave me all the right answers,” said Emmons, who also later landed a part-time job with the Clear Lake Police Department.
When Grace Baptist closed in 2008 in the depths of the Great Recession, Emmons sought to devote herself full-time to law enforcement.
The city of Barron sponsored Emmons’ enrollment in the police academy and he was offered a full-time position in 2009.
In 2010, Emmons proposed a K9 program for the department and led the fundraising of $25,000 to start the program.
“I’ve always had a passion for dogs,” he says. “It was the right time for the city to do so.”
In 2011, Emmons got his first K9 partner, a German Shepherd named Blitz.
Emmons said many of his most rewarding moments in law enforcement were watching his dogs succeed in their duties.
Not only was Blitz good at detecting drugs, but he was also an excellent tracker.
In 2012, two out-of-state men stole items from Walmart and a high-speed police chase ensued. After the men abandoned their vehicle near Poskin, Blitz was able to track their scent through a cornfield, an environment the dog had not trained in, Emmons said. Both men were found and convicted.
Blitz died in April 2016 of complications from cancer surgery.
Within months, the department had a new K9, Hart, but the dog was soon retired due to hearing issues.
Finally, in October 2016, Duke joined the department.
“Duke has had several drug discoveries. He was very good at finding drugs,” Emmons said.
But K9s are perhaps most valuable as a means of facilitating friendly interactions between officers and citizens.
“The K9 program has become a real connector with the community. People fell in love with both dogs (Blitz and Duke),” Emmons said.
Duke retired a year ago and remains with his master.
“He still trains with me, but he’s a house dog now,” Emmons said.
It was around the same time that Emmons realized he needed to relax too.
Last spring, it was discovered that he had nearly complete blockages in major arteries near his heart.
“It really came as a surprise,” said Emmons, who himself has successfully performed CPR three times in his career.
His heart problems were so bad that a doctor told Emmons “he shouldn’t be here”. Emmons believes that it is only by the grace of God that he is still alive.
Emmons was on sick leave for two months last year, but by July he was healthy enough to hike with his sons in Wyoming’s Bighorn National Forest.
In retirement, he looks forward to golfing, fishing, relaxing and enjoying life, especially with his family. He and Lynn have been married for 42 years and have three sons, Aaron, Paul and Sam.
But Emmons is hoping not to give up on her second career altogether. He said he wanted to work on developing improved training kits for K9s.
“I will miss certain aspects of police work; I will definitely miss the camaraderie, community service, K9 work,” Emmons said.
He concluded: “It was a good career for me. It was a pleasure to serve our community. »