Jon Richardson's friend and former officer at the Monroe Police Department sees Richardson off on his retirement from the force.
Jon Richardson's friend and former officer at the Monroe Police Department sees Richardson off on his retirement from the force.

Jon “JR” Richardson can recall the night he caught a thief in the act. He was on patrol, completing checks on local convenience stores, when he came upon the suspect who had been breaking into shops to lift cigarettes.

It was about 4 a.m., and the seasoned Monroe Police officer was on one of the last rounds of the shift. He watched the man climb out through a window he had broken to enter the store and take off on foot.

“I kept my eyes on him as long as I could,” Richardson said.

A K9 unit was called in, and the man was tracked and taken into custody after having committed about a dozen burglaries. It wasn’t the 57-year-old’s biggest case, but it will be one he remembers most clearly.

Richardson is also easily reminded of the time he was able to refute a suspected car thief’s alibi. He said he took satisfaction from the legwork, which yielded a fingerprint from the car the man stole but said he never drove.

“I am not sure why that story sticks out — a lot of the time it’s the smaller cases,” he said.

The Monroe Police Department lost its collisions specialist when Richardson retired on Sept. 15. He was with the agency for about 32 years. For nine of those, he was assigned as a detective, but decided to request patrol again around 1998.

Police Chief Tim Quenzer told the crowd that came out for the retirement celebration held at Monroe City Hall on Sept. 12 that his peers won’t forget Richardson any time soon — especially for his notorious sense of humor.

Richardson’s family moved from New York to Washington in 1971. His sister worked for TV Guide at the time, and his mother for the Seattle School District. His plan was to become an architect during his time at the former Woodway High School in Edmonds. Not far from graduation, in 1978, he was invited on a ride-along with his brother-in-law who was a police officer. The experience ended up rerouting his career path.

“I think I had fun doing it,” he said. “I wasn’t stuck behind a desk.”

That same year Richardson entered the Air Force as a military police officer, starting out at the McChord Air Force Base before it became the Joint Base Lewis-McChord. From there he was sent to Germany for three years. After five years of service, he returned to Washington and sent in applications to a handful of regional police departments.

Richardson applied in Monroe, Sultan, Darrington and Des Moines. He was accepted into Monroe’s reserve academy in January 1984, and in September was hired as a provisional police officer. Then in February 1985 he was hired at Des Moines, but headed back to Monroe in August of that year after a receiving an offer to return; it was the bonds he had formed at his former job that made the decision.

Charles “Chuck” Myers remembers helping train the new recruit. He said Richardson was “a good officer. He learned quickly. He was meticulous about his paperwork.”

Myers said something stood out right away out about Richardson, who stands about 6-foot 5-inches tall. He said the bulk definitely benefited in a scuffle, but worked against him on a chase.

The two friends worked together for more than a decade. Myers came to Richardson’s retirement party on Sept. 12. He too had a long career in the field. Standing outside after the group photos were taken, he noted, “It’s a brotherhood.”

“It was very rewarding work,” he said. “It was hard work, but it was very rewarding.”

Richardson said time spent with his fellow officers will likely be what he misses the most, from the after-hours gatherings, such as department-hosted community events to staff barbecues. He will also miss the plethora of opportunities to pull pranks at whim.

There was the time Richardson placed firefighter patches on an officer’s uniform the day his coworker was sent over to a local station. The man didn’t notice before it was too late — “not until they were laughing at him.” There was also the time Richardson halfway shredded a copy of an officer’s paycheck, and left it for him to find.

“I only gave him a few seconds of letting it sink in before showing him I had the real one,” he said with a laugh.

It wasn’t all mischief.

Richardson’s wife, Jennifer, said it was compassion and drive to serve the community that made him an admirable employee. She said she always saw her husband treat everyone with the same fairness, and he tried not to pass judgment.

“He is the most honorable man I have ever met, aside from my dad,” she said.

Richardson said he’s felt for the spouse being victimized in a domestic violence dispute, and has been called out to his share of traffic-related fatalities. He said the ones that involved children were the toughest to process.

While Richardson won’t be retiring from work entirely, Jennifer said, it will free up more time for family. The couple has been married 19 years and has a son, Jon II. For “17 years of his life his dad worked the night shift,” she said.

Richardson has already started work as a security officer at the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. He will be on the night shift once again until his official retirement from the workforce in about six years.

“He wants the work,” Jennifer said. “He doesn’t like sitting idle.”

Despite the challenging schedule, the family meets regularly for meals, such as Richardson’s favorite, Tom Gai soup over rice, and plans movie nights and goes on road trips together, Jennifer said. They have been able to make it work over the years, she said.

Camping has been a favored activity for the family of three. They travel all over the state, but have ended up a few times at mutual favorites, such as Grayland State Park. The evening usually ends sitting quietly around the campfire just watching the stars and the fire, she said.

“I am so happy, I am so excited,” she said. “They had him for 32 years, and now it’s my turn.”