In the Know column: I'd rather wear out than rust out

By Rick Wyffels, Alexandria Police Chief

It seems like the last 37 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, as that expression goes. Thirty-seven years of law enforcement is part of my life; note I said only a part. I have learned so many lessons in that time.

First, the only thing that is consistent is the changes that I saw take place. I could never have imagined the amount of technology that a police officer would have accessible to them when I started in this line of work all those years ago. Technology to me at that time was something we saw on the old TV show The Jetsons. The use of technology in the world of law enforcement has grown immensely and allowed us to do our jobs more efficiently and with a higher level of professionalism. I look forward to the coming changes and how they will impact the way this job is done.

Second, it’s about the people. A smile will take you a long way and a simple act of kindness isn’t measurable. You must consider how your actions will impact the stakeholders for any situation. The members of your family are not just those related to you through blood and the use of the word stranger is short lived when it comes to getting to know people. A huge thank you to my family. If your kids are an investment, then your grandkids are the dividends. I look forward to spending more time with all of them.

Police represent the community response to a host of issues and we need one another to be successful. I need to extend a very heartfelt thank you to both the community and the Alexandria Police Department staff for your continued support over the years. I feel honored to be part of such a special community. My experience here has been unbelievable. This job can be described as a front row seat to life which is absolutely accurate, but it can also be described as the film, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, starring a young Clint Eastwood. I considered myself lucky that most of this career fell into the good category.


Where to now? What’s next for me? While I may not know the destination just yet, I do know how I will get there. I will remain purposeful and engaged in this new adventure, wherever it may lead. Retirement is not the end but rather a new beginning of the next phase of life.

A man who I have known for many years, Mike Lillehaugan, came to see me not so long ago. He wanted to say thank you for my work in law enforcement and share a story with me. He told me about his father who passed away a number of years ago at age 91. Only a year prior to that, at age 90, Mike’s dad climbed up into a combine to help with the fall harvest. Having grown up on a farm myself, I was amazed that a 90-year-old man still had the ability or the desire to climb all those steps into a combine. Mike told me that his dad passed on a message to him, a sort of motto if you will. He said that he would rather wear out than rust out. This struck me as a great message as I transition from one phase to the next. Stay active, stay engaged, and try to wear out rather than rust out.

It has been a pleasure serving this great community for so many years and I look forward to whatever the future holds.

Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels is retiring on Sept. 30. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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