Friday, Jan. 30 will be Dave Klinzing’s last day as a New London police officer.
He will leave a good family of police officers, some with him the entire 29 years of his job. Klinzing is a native of New London, well liked by most everyone who spends time with him.
Four years ago, Klinzing made a three-year commitment to take the role of the New London Police Student Liaison for New London High School. His attention to representing a positive role model gave him the chance to make a difference for many students. He said he is proud that many of the students he worked with have matured and taken responsibility for their actions.
“Some of them don’t have an adult to depend on, or a father figure to look up to,” he said.
He stressed the fact that parental involvement is instrumental to raising a child.
When Klinzing learned that a replacement officer for the position was going to take a year to fill, he stayed on for the year. The year has passed and now Klinzing is retiring. Officer Josh Wilson is in the position now, for what Klinzing said can be a rewarding experience.
Over the years, Klinzing said so many things have changed for the better at the New London Police Department. For instance, they did not have a liaison for the schools until the 1990s.
In 1984, while he attended police science schooling and then arrived at the police department as a rookie, he saw that physical fitness was not much of a concern.
“Many times we come upon situations where our physical strength and stamina can be real important, for instance, when taking a person into custody,” he said.
Klinzing approached Chief Dave Neumann who supported the idea of a fitness test. He allowed Klinzing to attend a fitness certification course specially designed for police officers. He shared ideas from the course and maintained a conversation with the chief until physical fitness standards were set in place. Recently, Police Chief Jeff Schlueter offered an incentive for officers who pass the fitness test twice a year.
Besides his fitness program, Klinzing cited multiple positive changes in the police department.
“Now there are officers that specialize in one area of criminal justice,” he said.
A computer crimes officer spends time on social media sites to gain knowledge of local negative situations. Computer investigating includes tracking pedophiles and has lead to arrests within the city. Another officer devotes time to drug related crimes. Child abuse and family dispute cases are dealt with by another police professional.
Klinzing said that the officers involved in a special unit are an invaluable resource to the rest of the force when related situations arise.
Klinzing counts himself blessed with all the good people who helped him with his career as a police officer.
“After high school, I worked a few jobs in town. My mother told me to go to school,” Klinzing said with a smile. “I went over to the tech and looked around. A police science degree was on a program list. I thought that would be an interesting job. And it really has been, from the start.”
Klinzing sent resumes to police stations throughout the state, nearly always being second in line when it came to a decision. He was not expecting a position to open up in his hometown of New London. In August of 1985, he dropped off his resume.
Klinzing was hired by then-Police Chief Jack Algiers.
“I can thank him for many things. He gave me a chance. I didn’t have any experience,” Klinzing said.
Experience was earned through countless night shifts in a squad car.
“I worked with nearly every officer in New London’s PD over the first couple of years. I was fortunate to get each point of view, advice, and feedback,” he said.
Like most police officers with many years on duty, Klinzing responded to some gruesome scenes. Most of them were related to traffic accidents, where victims were pronounced dead at the scene. He has also seen his share of family disputes and teenage drinking and drug busts.
Klinzing said he never takes the struggles and seriousness of his job home with him.
“My family never hears any of that. I do share funny stories though. At the police department, we use a sense of humor to relieve the workload. We are known to blow off steam with practical jokes,” Klinzing admitted. “Some really great ones have been pulled over the years. I remember the early days when I pulled one off on Earl Ruckdashel.”
Klinzing shares the story.
Working the night shift, rookie Ruckdashel was to relieve a dispatcher who worked until 2:30 a.m. Klinzing smiled like the cat that got away with the mouse as he recalled Ruckdashel dashing to the building to catch a ringing phone. The call was from Klinzing.
“I ducked down and called Earl on the telephone from across the same room. I disguised my voice and said, ‘Help.’ Earl asked where I was, so he could send a squad. I said ‘Help. I am right here,'” Klinzing said.
Ruckdashel asked the ‘woman’ for an address and Klinzing gave him the address of the police station.
“None of us used it. He had no idea it was me until I walked over and tapped him on the shoulder while saying ‘help.’ I had a good laugh and everyone heard about it.”
Ruckdashel takes things in stride. He said of Klinzing, “He’s been a great officer. He’s the guy everyone asks to see when they walk in the lobby at the police department. He’s a hometown guy that people reach out to. He’s so people friendly.”
There was a stretch in Klinzing’s career when he worked part-time to attend UW-Oshkosh, working to achieve a physical education degree. He chose an emphasis on exercise. It worked out well for him to work the night shift and attend classes in the daytime.
Always wanting to mentor kids, he was involved with the Police Explorers Program. Outside the police department, Klinzing devotes time performing many community services. At church, he is a Sunday school teacher. At the schools, he is a coach for football and volleyball.
He also worked for a time as a school bus driver, and a driver’s education instructor, which he commented were dangerous jobs.
With retirement, Klinzing said he is not looking forward to knocking off some of the items on a home repair list.
“I suppose I’ll feel better once I do,” he said.
A long-coming family vacation is on the horizon. He and wife, Tammy, have two sons, Erik, in seventh grade, and Connor is a sophomore in high school. Tammy is a cardiac technician and shares his love for physical fitness.
Klinzing is retiring from his police career, and jumping full speed into a new career. As a personal trainer, he will mentor clients in fitness programs that are designed specifically for the goals they want to achieve. Last year, the Klinzing’s created a new space at their home for the next chapter in his life.
“I can’t wait to get started on this full-time,” Klinzing said. “Physical fitness is what I am all about.”