GRANDVIEW After nearly four decades serving the residents of Grandview, longtime Police Officer Earl Ripplinger is retiring March 31.
He grew up in the community he’s served with honor and spent three years in the Air Force before returning to his hometown.
“I moved back with the intention of working with my father,” Ripplinger said.
His father owned a drilling, blasting and excavating business, but Ripplinger’s “… plans didn’t work out.”
Having a young family, including two children, he needed to find a job.
“I applied for a job with Public Works,” Ripplinger remembers.
He wasn’t hired for that job, and when he saw the Police Department was hiring a dispatcher applied there.
“I thought I would be turned down,” Ripplinger said.
Much to his surprise, he was hired for the dispatcher position and through the years transitioned to patrol officer.
“I was a complete fish out of water,” Ripplinger quipped.
Unlike many of his colleagues, he hadn’t dreamt of serving in law enforcement as a child. However, he found he enjoyed serving the community.
“It’s not an easy job,” Ripplinger said.
Personal circumstances, he admits, kept him from retiring at an earlier age.
That was okay because “… I love the people I work with, and I love Grandview,” he said.
At the age of 62, though, he is eager to enjoy retirement.
As for being a police officer, Ripplinger said there have been many changes, and “every day is different.”
“I’ve been fortunate,” he admits, stating he’s not been involved in any shootouts.
One of the toughest cases he’s been on, however, was the Una Strom murder. He was the first on scene.
Strom was well-known in the community, “… and that was just shocking,” Ripplinger said of the still unsolved homicide case.
The good moments, though, have kept him positive throughout his career. “I can count on one hand times I’ve had someone offer truly heartfelt thanks.”
Advances in technology have made the job easier in the 38 years Ripplinger has been an officer.
“Most beneficial has been the portable data centers (computers in the car),” he said.
Information and photographs for identification verification purposes is available at the speed of a few keystrokes. “That’s especially helpful for warrants,” Ripplinger said.
Remembering the days when he had to handwrite and type reports, he said it took 10 times as long to use the teletype to verify vehicle registration.
“Now it comes back almost instantly,” he laughed.