Chief Clark retires from the Ottumwa Police Department

Chief Clark greets the public at his retirement party.

After more than 30 years, Jim Clark is retiring from the Ottumwa Police Department.

He announced his retirement last month and will be moving to Florida with his family.

"One of the things that I'll miss most is, obviously, the people that I work with because certainly I think we have the finest department in the state and we have excellent personnel here, they all know what they're doing and they do it very well and I'll miss working with them," Chief Clark said. "But what I'll also miss is our community. I make no bones that we're going to be moving to a warmer climate where there's no snow and no ice and no cold and Ottumwa is my hometown, and I'll miss it."

A lot has changed since Chief Clark joined the department in 1982, but the development he's most proud of is the relationship the department has formed with the community. Reaching out through outlets like the citizen's police academy, the public has a much better understanding of how the department operates.

"I think through various methods we've used, whether it's the annual report, whether it's social media, whether it's working closely with our local media, we've been as transparent as we possibly can," he said. "Been on the radio and take questions from the community members and I think that's important that our police department is part of the community and that's one thing I'm really proud of."

With 30-plus years in law enforcement, Clark has seen his fair share of good, bad and everything in between. But in spite of those tough cases, he's never lost focus on what drew him to this career in the first place.

"One thing that I have come to realize and you don't always think about it and it sounds like a cliche, but we do make a difference," he said. "There's so many times that officers go to calls and it just appears like you don't really make a difference. But you never know when what you do really hits home with that victim and you do make a difference. It may not be right then, it may be a year or two down the road, or it may be ten years down the road, or you may have stopped a cycle of violence where the victim, if it weren't for something you did, may have continued on when they became an adult. So I think it's important for officers to realize that we do make a difference, whether we see it or not."

Clark had this advice for anyone looking to go into law enforcement; go to school and be sure to find a community where you fit in and feel comfortable.