Twenty-five years and more than 100,000 calls for service.
Statistics often can be construed to fit an existing paradigm, but when it comes to the long service of La Grande Police Officer Kris Rasmussen the numbers do not lie — they illustrate a story of true public service.
Rasmussen will retire at the end of this month, and when she leaves the La Grande police station for the last time her move will not be unique. Police officers retire all the time, every day in ever corner of the nation.
What is distinctive about Rasmussen’s retirement is not only will she depart as the department’s longest serving female police officer, but that she grew up in La Grande and chose to make her career in her hometown.
That, in and of itself, is exceptional. Usually — but not always — people who grow up in a small town leave to make their way in the world. Eastern Oregon has faced a reoccurring problem of exporting its youth for decades. The reasons for this circumstance are varied, but when a young man or woman decides to stay and to give back to their community, the entire region benefits.
Rasmussen said she fulfilled her dream to be a police officer, and that also deserves some recognition, but what is more important is the fact that she represents a corps of people who have a singular focus to serve their community.
Since the riots that spread across the nation last summer, police have been in the limelight, usually for their misdeeds. There is no doubt that there are bad people who put on the uniform, just as there are unsavory individuals who wear a military uniform or work at a major company.
By and large, though, police are like the rest of us. They have families. They have children. They want to be successful and do a great job. They refrain from the spotlight and would rather never see their name inside a newspaper or on social media. That is not their gig. Their job is to help the community they serve. And they do so in a professional manner.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that a few misguided individuals do not represent the whole of the police force in America.
We needed people like Kris Rasmussen, and we will need them in the future. She deserves the thanks of the entire community.
We wish her good luck in the future.