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Brown Deer officer says farewell to the force after 34 years

Kern retires from Police Department

Village of Brown Deer Police Officer Ted Kern, shown here at the police department last week,  is retiring from the department after 35 years.

Village of Brown Deer Police Officer Ted Kern, shown here at the police department last week, is retiring from the department after 35 years. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Dec. 30, 2013

Brown Deer — Brown Deer Police Officer Ted Kern donned his uniform for the final time last week.

After serving the Brown Deer Police Department for 35 years, Kern retired from the force Dec. 30.

Kern's career has been filled with ups and downs, frustrations and rewards. Though he hung up his badge after a long and successful career ensuring the safety of the 12,000 residents in Brown Deer, Kern is not done working. He plans to get another job, it's just a question of when and where.

"This is a young person's job and I'm still healthy and I want to retire while I'm still healthy and it's just time to go," he said. "I often analogize this to a relay race: It's time for me to hand off the baton and get off the track and cheer them on. But, I'm too young to stay at home and do nothing."

Kern may be handing off the baton, but he has made impact an the Brown Deer Police Department, often mentoring new officers, even seeing some become heads of the department.

Not a 'normal' job

Kern will be the first person to say that working as a police officer is not an easy job. Days can be emotionally draining and the job at times is psychologically trying, says Kern, referencing an incident that lead to a shootout between officers and an armed suspect.

"Anybody that does this line of work can't claim to be normal because people who are in this line of work or in firefighting, people who are willing to go into danger, instead of run from it, it's kind of hard to consider normal," Kern said.

Still, Kern kept with it and showed up for work day after day, year after year. When things got tough, he turned to his routine to keep himself balanced.

"I cherish parts of routine, even if it's coming in early to mentally prepare for work — I mean taking my time to get ready, so I don't have to rush, getting things in line, making sure my patrol bag is packed, having enough coffee," he said. "We all know once our telephone rings at home, we know our whole world can be turned upside down, plans changed."

Got to know Brown Deer well

The job does come with its rewards. Getting to the know the community and the people in it has been one of the most rewarding parts of being an officer since he started in Brown Deer on Jan. 9, 1979.

His path to public service began as a paid-on-call firefighter for the Greendale Fire Department. He put himself through school and was ultimately hired by Brown Deer, where he stayed.

There is a reception scheduled to celebrate Kern's career from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Earl McGovern board room at Village Hall, 4800 W Green Brook Drive. The public is welcome to attend.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Retirement party for Officer Ted Kern

WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 8

WHERE: Brown Deer Village Hall, 4800 W Green Brook Drive

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