After more than 40 years in law enforcement, Joe Humphrey has decided to turn in his badge. The City of Gothenburg hosted a retirement reception for Officer Humphrey on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and as of Wednesday, Feb. 1, the long-time cop is just a husband, dad and grandpa.

Humphrey didn’t grow up wanting to be a police officer. In fact, that was a decision that came as he entered college. He spent his early childhood years in the small town of Dalton, before the family moved to Sidney where he graduated from high school in 1974.

After high school he headed up the road to Chadron State College to continue his education. “I was like most kids coming out of high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” Humphrey recalled. “At that time they had a law enforcement education funding program called LEAP, and thinking that was something I might be interested in, I enrolled in the criminal justice program. I was familiar with Chadron and the area there, and I really did enjoy it.”

He applied for an internship as his college education was coming to a close and began working with the Chadron Police Department. “I got my baptism there, if you will, by learning how to dispatch. I did that on the overnight shift on Wednesday and Saturday nights for one full semester. Then I did another internship and was able to ride with the officers,” explained Humphrey.

As luck would have it, a position opened up in the department as he was graduating from college - and three days after his 21st birthday Humphrey began his first full-time law enforcement job with the Chadron Police Department in September 1977. The department sent him through the law enforcement training center, which was an 8-week course in Grand


He and his wife, Kim, were married in Gordon the following year and in January 1979, he took a position with the Ogallala Police Department. Over the next nearly two decades, Humphrey worked his way up the ranks in the department with promotions to sergeant, then lieutenant, and in 1985 attended a 12- week training course at the FBI Academy in Quantico designed for officers in supervisory positions.

“It was the 50th anniversary of the National Academy, and I was honored to be a part of that,” he said.

In 1988, his Chief took a position with the Kearney Police Department and Humphrey was appointed Chief of Police. He held that position with the

Ogallala Police Department until 2005.

“Eighteen years of the stress and strain was wearing me out. I could tell I had lost interest in the job. My supervisor had seen it too, so when I resigned, it was kind of a mutual parting of the ways,” he explained.

After leaving the Ogallala department, Humphrey said he tried some other things, then saw that Gothenburg had an opening in their department.

“Chief Olson and I had developed a bond when he was working at North Platte, so I inquired and went through the hiring process. I was hired in November 2005,” Humphrey recalled.

“People ask me if I have any regrets, and I always say that maybe the only regret I have is not coming to Gothenburg 10 years sooner.”

Humphrey admits that it was a bit of a transition going from police chief back to serving as an officer, but said the administration in the Gothenburg department made that easier. “The philosophies here and the philosophies I had in Ogallala pretty well mesh, so I understand why we do things the way we do.”

In his role at GPD he has been responsible for the field training of new officers and has assisted with implementing technology upgrades within the


Humphrey and his wife have three daughters, two of whom live in the Omaha area. They have six grandchildren, and Humphrey said his plan is to

transition into the role of grandpa.

The couple has purchased a home in Waterloo and will be relocating there immediately. “We will be five minutes from the grandbabies.”

“I will find something to do,” he continued. “I love woodworking, and if I need something part-time to do, other than law enforcement, I will find something that doesn’t require an enforcement attitude. Fortyfive years is enough.”