For over 30 years Jack Robinson worked in law enforcement, protecting residents of Van Buren and Crawford County. Even though he’s now entering into retirement, he would do it all over again given the chance.
“It’s really been an honor working for the city of Van Buren,” he said. “If I had to do it all over again I would definitely do it again.”
Robinson retired in October as a sergeant after serving 29 years and seven months with the Van Buren Police Department and five months with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department.
Robinson started his career as a patrolman in 1989 and transitioned into the role of a school resource officer in 2001.
“We had an at-risk program that I was in charge of,” he said. “Then I came out of the schools and was a troop sergeant (2008), then the last year of my career I was at the (municipal court) complex.”
Along the way Robinson earned the department’s Top Gun Award (1995), was named Officer of the Year (2003) and was awarded the department’s Life Saving Award (2012) while building a career as an exemplary officer.
“He’s one of those guys that’s always solid,” said Van Buren Police Chief Jamie Hammond. “You could count on him to do what you needed to have done and he would always do it. You never had to worry about what Jack was doing because Jack was always doing the right thing. He’s always been a good representation of what we ask our officers to be and he’s been doing that for 30 years.”
Hammond said having Robinson at the municipal court complex, where many visitors were there under less-than-cordial circumstances, was a perfect fit.
“Because of your demeanor and the way you deal with people,” Hammond told Robinson, “you were a perfect fit for that position and I couldn’t think of anyone better to work there than you.”
During a ceremony held at police headquarters celebrating Robinson’s retirement, Hammond read a letter written as a character reference by a Van Buren citizen that accompanied the original application Robinson filled out when applying for a position with the department.
A portion of the letter said Robinson “is always willing to help a person in need no matter what the problem is. I think Jack would make an excellent police officer because of his love of people and his dedication to helping others.”
And Hammond said, “That held true back in 1989 and it holds true in 2018.”
Hammond then presented Robinson’s sergeant’s badge, officer identification and sidearm to the retiring officer.
“The best thing I did was when I came to work for the city and it’s truly been an honor,” said Robinson. “It’s been an honor. The city of Van Buren has been great to me and to my family. It’s tough to go because we’re all family.”
As a member of the Van Buren Fraternal Order of Police, Robinson was allowed to select a pistol or gun of his choice (for under $500) as a retirement gift from the FOP. He was presented that gift, a Springfield XDS 9mm handgun, by Van Buren officer and FOP president George Elen.
“He became a mentor to a lot of us on that troop,” said Elen. “We went through a lot of trying times together with other officers and we became a really close family. When he got sick about a year ago it hurt us a lot because he was like a father figure to us. We really cared about him and wanted to see him pull through. But we knew if anybody’s going to pull through it would be him because he’s strong as an ox.”
Robinson, who has been married to his wife, Manci, for 38 years, won’t be slowing down in his retirement.
“There’s a new chapter in my life that I’m going to start,” he said. “I’m going to get into full-time ministry. I used to do it. But the way my shift was as a patrol sergeant, working 12-hour shifts every other weekend … I want to get back into ministry.”
Robinson said he felt he was called to protect and serve those 30 years ago just like he’s being called into the ministry in his retirement.
“This has been an awesome career,” he said. “Not everybody’s cut out to be a police officer. I believe it was part of my calling. And I would do it all over again.”
The Robinsons have two children, Manci and Joseph, and five grandkids. All live in Van Buren.