Hamilton police officer Jim Beeler’s last duty assignment was arguably his most public: leading the city’s 2019 annual July Fourth parade.
Thursday was the 48-year-old’s last day on the job with the Hamilton Police Department, as he is retiring after 25 years.
“I owe a lot to Hamilton,” Beeler said. “Twenty-five years of paychecks, raising a family and meeting my wife.”
Sheerie Beeler was a dispatcher in 1994 when they met. His wife’s brother, who is now his brother-in-law, was his field training officer. In 1995, Beeler married his wife, and over the next 25 years they had four children — ages 22, 19, 17 and 7.
And if it wasn’t for a cousin who was on the force encouraging him to take the civil service test, the past quarter century likely would not have happened.
High Street was packed Thursday morning as more than 1,000 parade-watchers lined the street in downtown Hamilton. The parade featured veterans of various eras, the Hamilton and Fairfield high school marching bands, the Butler County sheriff and several of his deputies, and several Hamilton police officers.
Beeler’s leading of the Hamilton parade was the idea of a supervisor who thought it would be a fitting way to end this chapter of his life. And being out in front was unusual. Beeler is usually conducting safety checks or working at the back end of parade making sure entries aren’t colliding as they step off onto the route.
“I’ve been assigned to traffic now for 20-plus years and I’ve been doing the Fourth of July parades, the antique car parades, and all those for the whole time, so I know what I’m doing; I’ve done them forever,” Beeler said. “They thought it would be a nice way for me to end (my career) is to lead (the parade).”
While policing has changed over the past 25 years, Beeler said one thing about the job never has changed.
“Nobody calls the police just to hang out for a cookout,” he said. “So you always kind of have to go into (a situation) with a level of empathy and compassion, and really try to understand so you can get them what they need.
“They call us when they’re out of options. They’ll call us with non-police matters, and they don’t know who else to call so they call the cops. You got to be open and available to help them, and do what you can for them.”
Beeler now heads north to Kettering working for Kettering Health Network’s private police force.
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