Sergeant Arnold who set the standard for the department retires after 38 years

Joe Nixon knew it was time to retire from his nearly four-decade career as a police officer at Arnold, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier.

“The night I left, I cried the whole way back,” he said. “I knew I wouldn’t come back.

Nixon, 60, of Lower Burrell worked as a police officer in Arnold for more than 38 years. He retired in June.

Aches, pains and cell phones told him it was time.

“Your body starts telling you that you’re not a kid anymore. You work double duty and the next day you’re more exhausted than before,” he said. harder to follow.”

Nixon started at Arnold in late February 1984. He had been there for just over six years when current police chief Eric Doutt started in June 1990. They were promoted to sergeant at the same time in 1995.

“I aspire to be a Joe Nixon when I come to work,” Doutt said. “He framed me.”

Doutt described Nixon as hardworking, thorough, fair, and consistent. He was the oldest and most experienced officer in the department.

“He was the embodiment of what a police officer should be,” Doutt said. “If his mother had parked illegally, I think he would have written her a ticket. That’s how Joe was, according to the book.

“In my eyes, he is the standard of what I want here. Losing it is going to be hard to overcome.

Arnold Mayor Joe Bia said Nixon was a vital part of the city’s police department.

“I really hated to see him go,” Bia said. “He embodied the officer who has been through it all and more. He will be sorely missed.”

A 1979 graduate of Burrell High School, Nixon said his parents urged him to go to college. He attended Allegheny College in Meadville for a year before injuring his knee while playing football. He transferred to the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, where he graduated in 1983 with a double major in administration of justice and political science.

Nixon searched for a job for a year before being hired at Arnold. He wanted to join the state police, but knew it could mean transferring across the state.

“I like to stay close to home,” he said. “I didn’t want to walk away.”

Nixon lived in Arnold from 1984 to 2003 and is a life member of Arnold’s No. 1 Fire Department, in which he was active from approximately 1986 to 2002.

Growing up, television shows such as “Kojak” sparked Nixon’s interest in police work. While he enjoyed political science classes in college, he ended up disliking politics – one reason he never wanted to be a leader.

Helping people is what Nixon loved most about his job.

“I see the police losing that community orientation, that part of the public police service where a lady has to cross a street or she needs her furnace turned on or there is an animal in her house or she has lost her dog , simple calls like that. he said. “I’m someone who’s for underdogs and people trying to get by. I see the police departments moving away from that. I really don’t like that.

One of the proudest moments of Nixon’s long career was his role in the arrest of a suspected serial rapist of elderly women in 1992. Nixon and Officer Thomas Cimino found the man hiding in a yard neighbor after entering the room of a 62-year-old woman, tried to assault her and injured an 84-year-old woman as he fled.

The man later pleaded guilty to burglary, indecent assault and common assault and was sentenced to four to eight years in prison.

“I was glad he got caught,” Nixon said.

The worst was in October 2011 when his friend, Lower Burrell officer Derek Kotecki, was ambushed and killed.

“That one still hurts a lot,” Nixon said.

He barely knew New Kensington officer Brian Shaw, but when Shaw was killed on duty in November 2017, “it brought all that pain back,” he said.

Nixon and his wife, Alexis, will celebrate their 28th birthday in September. He said her job was more difficult for her than for him.

“She must have spent a lot of time alone,” he said. “I worked a lot of nights. I worked a lot from 4 to 12s. Often I left her at dinner parties when I had to rush back to work. I missed a lot of family parties.

Nixon said his wife knows how much he loves his job, but “she’s glad I’m done,” he said.

Although retired, Nixon has not finished working. A few days after leaving Arnold, he began working full-time as a police officer at UPMC St. Margaret’s Hospital near Aspinwall.

“I couldn’t sit at home,” he said. “I have to do something.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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