CLINTONVILLE, Wis (WBAY) - The longest serving member on the Clintonville police force is calling it a career.
Police Chief Jim Beggs is at peace, saying the time is right to take off the badge.
"I'm 65, I've been doing this for 44 years. You look at it and go, you start to look introspectively and say, Have I started to become a little stagnant? Have I got a little too much set in my ways? And is it time to get an infusion of new ideas and new energy in the office? And I really think it is," said Beggs on his final day in uniform.
Born and raised in Clintonville, Beggs went off to college to pursue a career in the paper industry, but he followed his heart and eventually chose law enforcement.
And of all the places he could've been hired, his hometown department called in July 1975.
"It just so happened that the job opening came around," Beggs said with a chuckle.
Over the decades, as Beggs received promotions, he was amazed at the advances in technology and crime solving methods.
"It's all about resources, and they have grown exponentially over the years and made themselves available from federal to state to local levels, has really helped a lot in law enforcement," recalls Beggs.
In recent years, though, new challenges have emerged, like attracting recruits.
Beggs says publicized mistakes by police officers around the country are just part of the problem.
"The ever-growing violence that you see involving law enforcement where more people are carrying weapons and are getting actively aggressive against law enforcement is scaring people away. Five years ago I advertised for a full-time position, I had 178 applicants from all across the country; the last time I advertised, I got 25," says Beggs.
Without question, Beggs says the highlight of his career is the people and the relationships he's developed in the department and community.
And he's never forgotten his roots.
"You understand the plight that sometimes people are going through, you can take it to heart and you have to use empathy in the way you apply law enforcement so that it's done at a level that you want the proper outcome, they aren't just statistical outcomes, but you're talking about how it's going to affect them and their families and the entire community," said Chief Beggs.