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Retiring St. Paul officer’s last patrol had special partner

November 17, 2018
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St. Paul police officer, Jon Sherwood, left, one of St. Paul's most senior officers, left, retires Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, after 32 years on patrol. He grew up on St. Paul's East Side and mostly patrolled there. He's asked fellow St. Paul officer Matthew Jones, right, the son of slain officer Tim Jones, to spend some time on patrol with him Friday. Sherwood regarded Tim Jones as a mentor and was with him just before the officer was fatally shot. (Jean Pieri/Pioneer Press via AP)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — After patrolling St. Paul’s streets for 32 years, officer Jon Sherwood had a special request for his last day on the job. He asked officer Matt Jones to join him in his squad car.

They weren’t usually police partners, but their lives have been intertwined.

Jones’ father, officer Tim Jones, was a mentor and friend to Sherwood. They were K-9 officers working together on Aug. 26, 1994, as they searched for the man who fatally shot their fellow officer, Ron Ryan Jr. The shooter also killed Jones and his dog, Laser.

The murders were Sherwood’s darkest day on the job, but he said they also made him want to work hard to honor the sacrifices of Ryan and Jones.

One of the best days at work, though, was seeing Matt Jones reach his goal of becoming a St. Paul officer in 2013. Sherwood has known Jones since he was a toddler; the boy was 8 when his father was killed.

Matt Jones said Sherwood has been a mentor to him his entire life.

“He’s always looked out for me and everyone looks up to him,” Jones told the Pioneer Press . “I think if I could be half the cop that Jon is, I’d be doing all right.”

The East Side is the place Sherwood calls home — he grew up in the Battle Creek neighborhood, graduated from Harding High School, patrolled in the area for years and still lives on the East Side. When he retired last month, he was St. Paul’s second most senior patrol officer.

“It takes on something special to grow up as a St. Paul kid and be an officer here,” Sherwood said. “I think for the most part ... my experience is that St. Paul likes their police department and their street cops.”

Sherwood’s family also is part of the St. Paul Police Department’s history. His great-great-grandfather, Daniel O’Connell, was the first St. Paul police officer killed in the line of duty. He was shot and killed in 1882.

Sherwood joined the St. Paul department more than 100 years later, in 1986. He started his career as a Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy for two years. He spent all his time in St. Paul as a patrol officer, with 20 of them as a K-9 officer.

Sherwood thought once about taking the test to become a sergeant, but it conflicted with an event he was chaperoning for his only child, Emily, and he opted to spend time with her instead. Sherwood said he never regretted the decision and loved being a patrol officer because every day brought something new.

Sherwood received national accolades as a K-9 handler and was also honored in St. Paul, including being named the police department’s Officer of the Year in 2017.

As Sherwood looks back at what’s changed since he became an officer, it’s not only technology.

When Sherwood started, he hardly recalls being called to people having a mental crisis. Now, officers respond to such calls daily.

The number of guns that officers find people carrying illegally or transporting in cars is also night-and-day from years past, Sherwood said.

One constant through the years, though, has been the feeling of the police department as a family.

At Sherwood’s final roll call, the room was full of officers — at least three times the number who would normally be there.

They came in when they weren’t scheduled to work and from other patrol districts because they wanted to honor Sherwood on his last day. Sherwood’s daughter, now a 27-year-old nurse, and her husband also surprised him by showing up.

“There’s not too many jobs that people work for 34 years anymore,” Jones said as he sat next to Sherwood in a squad car later. “He seems to love it the same way today as he did the first day that he started.”

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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