Parkville honors retiring police officer Olson, who served 39 years

JEANETTE BROWNING FAUBION/Citizen photo Kevin Chrisman (right), chief of the Parkville Police Department, presents retiring officer Eddie Olson with a plaque during a ceremony held Monday, Dec. 14 at Parkville City Hall in Parkville, Mo. Olson recently retired after spending 39 years of his career serving Parkville. PARKVILLE, Mo. — The longest-tenured police officer in Parkville retired Dec. 14 to much fanfare on a day named in his honor.

“He is everybody’s police officer,” said Parkville resident Cora Douglass Thompson of officer Edward Olson. “He understands kids, and he’s been an example to my son and to many others in Parkville.”

That was a sentiment echoed time and time again at the standing-room-only retirement ceremony held at city hall.

The Parkville Board of Aldermen recognized Olson at its Tuesday, Dec. 1 meeting, proclaiming his last day of work — Dec. 14 — as Edward Olson Day in his honor. And on his day, Olson had a reunion with former fellow former officers, chiefs of police and law enforcement officials from all around the area, including childhood friends and training officers.

Former Parkville mayor Kathy Dusenbery echoed current Parkville chief of police Kevin Chrisman’s introduction during the ceremony, that Olson’s involvement in the community made him a favorite both in the department and in neighborhoods alike.

“You understood the coined phrase ‘community policing’ before it was a coined phrase,” Dusenbery said of Olson, who started as a reserve officer in April 1976, working only one night per week.

Citizen file photo The City of Parkville honored Edward Olson, center, during its Parkville Days parade this past August. Olson retired this week after 39 years on Parkville’s police force.

In 1978, Olson started taking classes at the police academy in Independence, Mo. and wrote a letter to the current board of aldermen thanking them for their support.

Chrisman raided Olson’s personnel file, reading aloud this letter and other commendations Olson received throughout the years.

“In this letter, he wrote, ‘I will do my best to give you at least one year’ after his graduation. And now here he is, 30-plus years later,” Chrisman said.

Thomas Pirtle, former Parkville chief of police, hired Olson as a full-time officer in 1979, and since then, he has worked every shift and in several positions from administrative to patrol. In 1984, he was recognized by the department for having never used a sick day. In 1993, he was chosen for the Kansas City Metro Squad and worked on a homicide investigation in Kansas City, Kan. In 2000, he became involved in Boy Scouts with his son and has remained active, becoming a member of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say.

When the department started its Shop with a Cop Christmas program, Olson became involved, and although he announced his intent to retire in late summer, he decided to stay on to participate in one last shopping trip on Saturday, Dec. 12.

With his retirement pending, Olson was honored in the Parkville Days parade in August, and Chrisman teased Olson about his reluctance to file the proper paperwork to actually retire.

“Finally I told him, ‘We’re giving you all this recognition; are you going to retire or not?’” Chrisman said.

The paperwork was indeed filed, in November, and on his last day, Olson received a bookcase belonging to Pirtle as a gift from the department, as well as a slew of other items from co-workers and friends, including a .38-caliber revolver, old Parkville police patch and holster, a plaque featuring one of his old badges and a ceremonial baton for his wife, Debbie.

“I wouldn’t trade my experiences here for anything,” Olson said. “I’ve met a lot of good people here.” One of those is Capt. Jon Jordan, who called Olson a mentor ever since he joined the department in 1991.

“You could always count on Eddie to remember everything, too,” Jordan said.

In his farewell, Olson thanked the city and its inhabitants and set his sights on the future. His grandson, who is interested in a career in law enforcement himself, has offered to teach him to play video games.

“The only uniform I’ll have to wear from here on out is my Boy Scout uniform,” Olson said.