HASTINGS, Mich. (April 25, 2014) — 62-year-old Jerry Sarver is finally saying goodbye to his position as top cop with the Hastings Police Department after serving 25 of his 33 years as chief.
Sarver said that in the early 1980’s, he joined a volunteer police group in Hastings. It was after that when he decided to leave his more traditional job at a nearby factory.
“At the time I was making pretty good money as a supervisor and then like 4 days before the academy started, I got pink slipped at the Bliss, and so I thought it was god sent and started the police academy,” said Sarver.
Sarver said that after graduating from the police academy, he hit the ground running to make sure the streets stayed quiet during his overnight patrol shifts.
“3-4 bar fights a week. We had about 8 different bars and liquor establishments that served liquor and things were rowdier back then. I think people have gotten wiser and more aware of the affects of alcohol,” said Sarver.
Sarver said that shifts in technology along the years have kept him on his toes.
“We had manual typewriters when I started in here, and we got these new typewriters called electric typewriters and some of the officers didn’t like them because you can’t change your mind halfway down on an electric typewriter, that that’s the wrong key,” said Sarver.
Not only was it technology that changed, but Sarver said that he changed as well. He said that he too had been shaped by tragedies in his community.
“I got to the scene and my daughter was 16 at the time. This is where it hit home. This girl, I looked at her license and she was a very pretty 16-year-old girl. What was left from being ground on the pavement was just the opposite,” said Sarver.
Then came September 11, 2001. Sarver said that served as a wake up call to make sure his department was ready for anything.
“It was one of those times when it was like, I mean we are a small town police department, and we are suppose to respond to some code red if we are under attack? We’re not prepared for that,” said Sarver.
Sarver said that he’s been eligible for retirment for years, but because of budget cuts he feared his postion wouldn’t be replaced. That would mean the loss of one of the few reamining officers protecting the community of Hastings.
“I’ve been thinking about it for the last 3, 4, 5 years because I’ve been eligible, but didn’t want to leave the department or city in a situation where if I leave, bad is going to go to worse,” said Sarver.
As a true Barry County native, Sarver said that he now plans to run for a seat on the county commission, which will allow him extra time to spend with his grandchildren and his love for motorycycle riding.
“Whether I eventually go south like old people do to Florida, Hastings will always be my home. It just always has been and always will,” said Sarver.