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Last call
Kathy Hammon retired after 30 years working for the Brodhead Police Department where she led in OWI arrests. Her only plans so far for her retirement are to relax. (Photo supplied)
BRODHEAD - Kathy Hammon started at the Brodhead Police Department more than three decades ago with retirement as a far-off goal. But time spent answering emergency calls and serving the public raced by and April 2 she found herself working her final shift.

"The years go by fast," Hammon said. "First you think you're the young officer, and then you're about to retire and you're the old one there."

Hammon was honored Monday at the Brodhead city council meeting for her years of dedicated service to the city, receiving a shadowbox from Mayor Doug Pinnow that included her badge.

Brodhead Police Chief Chris Hughes said during the ceremony that Hammon's picture would be displayed in the lobby at the station, an honor reserved for those who contribute more than 25 years to the department. She's only the second officer to go on display in this manner, Hughes said.

Hammon also conducted the swearing in of her replacement, Ashland native Brandon Barnes, at the meeting, what Hughes labeled as "passing the torch."

Hammon was first hired by now-Green County Sheriff Mark Rohloff in 1984, while he served as interim chief of Brodhead Police. She began as a part-time telecommunicator, dispatching calls before becoming a field officer. She went on to work during the hours when most people are asleep, craving a challenge.

"I preferred the night shift," Hammon said. "If something was going to happen, it was probably going to be pretty good and you're going to have to be on it and respond. Day shift is a lot more public service and talking to people about their complaints, no matter how minor they are."

Hammon picked up a few tricks of the trade during her shifts through the years and learned quickly what to look out for in a small town.

"You get to know who goes where and what goes on at what time at night and what time the cleaning people are at this business and ... at that business," Hammon said. "I've picked up several drunks over the years because I would get behind them and they would whip into a driveway and I knew they didn't live there - it's a small town."

When Hughes came on board in 2015 he asked each officer about their career goals and ideas to make the police force more efficient. Hammon's response focused on a better working relationship with the businesses that sell alcohol.

"She wanted to be proactive, not reactive," Hughes said.

Hammon met with business leaders and was a big part of improving the dialogue between local establishments and the police department in hopes of trimming the number of drunken drivers on the roads.

"She took OWIs seriously," Hughes said. "She led our department in OWI arrests year after year."

Hammon holds great respect for Hughes, who was open to change.

"When Chief Hughes came on, he was very open to hearing what you had to say and what your ideas were," she said.

Hammon said she remembers when Brodhead was busier in the evenings. She recalls a time when bar fights were frequent and when gangs tried to nest in the small town. Luckily, she said the chief at that time was proactive with extra patrols and talking to people to keep the mostly safe community intact.

"That's where we get the rumor from that Brodhead has too many cops because he saw that we had a problem," she said. "We jumped on top of it."

Hammon has no immediate plans for her retirement other than to relax. Hughes said the department will miss her patrolling the streets, as well as visiting with the community.

"Everybody knows who Kathy is in Brodhead," Hughes said. "Our Facebook post announcing her retirement had our highest outreach of any of our posts ever."