Lt. Glen Still kept some distance as he talked to the young man with the shotgun.
Distraught after breaking up with his girlfriend, the man sat on a street curb with the gun under his chin. In the dark, early morning hours, Still spoke with the despairing man planning to take his own life.
“We talked for quite some time,” Still said. “I figured if I could just keep the dialogue going with him, I could get him to put the gun down.”
The experience was one of many for Still who’s served the Fremont Police Department full time for 33 years and 3 ½ years as a reserve officer before that.
Friday is Still’s official last day on the force. The public is invited to a retirement coffee in his honor from 2-4 p.m. that day in the council room of the Fremont Municipal Building, 400 E. Military Ave.
Still and his wife, Wanda, plan to move to Mitchell, South Dakota. There, he’ll start his new job as director of the Mitchell Department of Public Safety on Monday.
After more than 3 ½ decades with the Fremont police, Still has seen many changes — from typewriters to computers and disposable cameras to body cameras.
Looking back at his career in Fremont, Still recalls his role in helping apprehend three bank robbery suspects and another time when he got a woman to seek some much-needed medical care.
Besides that, there was the negotiation with the distraught young man who thought he had nothing to live for.
Still talked to the man for about 30 minutes, repeatedly promising not to take him to jail. The two shared personal experiences.
“We just kind of talked as friends,” Still said. “Over time, he finally calmed down. I was able to build a rapport with him.”
Still gained the man’s trust.
“He finally handed me his shotgun,” Still said. “I took it away from him and we got him some mental health treatment.”
Still’s years of training and experience had helped.
Initially, Still worked for the Union Pacific Railroad after high school. He’s always had an interest in law enforcement and became a reserve officer in 1983. He became a full-time officer in July 1986.
He’s seen so many changes.
He remembers when the city’s street department made center consoles from old street signs to hold the in-car police radios. He recalls when officers used videotapes and DVDs and the upgrade of in-car cameras to a wireless, digital system.
In earlier days, officers were both cop and counselor when helping people with mental health issues. Now, they can call a specialist from Lutheran Family Services.
Still moved with the police station from the Broad Street building where Westside Church is today to the department’s current location at 725 N. Park Ave.
Now, the department has outgrown that building and he hopes for a new joint law enforcement center.
As years passed, Still rose through the ranks to supervisory positions. For a while, he was the motorcycle patrol supervisor, until that concluded due to budget concerns. He now handles administrative duties, making sure officers have the tools they need.
He’s appreciated mentors, including the late Sgt. Joe Howard and the late Lt. Detective Greg Chamberlain. Detective Joyce Henke retired last year.
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“I worked with people who taught me a lot over the years,” he said. “We all shared our experiences and I think we kind of learned from each other.”
Still’s experience helped on Nov. 15, 2017. Still was headed to an Omaha meeting in an unmarked car when he heard about the armed robbery at First State Bank & Trust on Military Avenue.
The suspects were said to have fled in a van.
Coming up to Military Avenue, Still noticed a smaller white vehicle with two people speeding onto the bypass. After a while, he spotted a head popping up and down in the backseat.
“That gave it away,” Still said.
Still provided descriptions to detectives, who confirmed he was seeing the armed suspects. Alone in his vehicle, Still told Nebraska State Patrol troopers initiate a traffic stop.
The white vehicle sped off. At 180th and Dodge streets, the suspects left the car. One threw a gun on the ground. Two others ran across Dodge Street into a Best Buy store at Village Pointe, where they were arrested.
Two troopers and Still began chasing a suspect, who’d gone into a ravine with the money. The suspect was arrested without incident.
Still later learned the suspects had abandoned the van north of the bank.
The three suspects, Warren D. Vasser, 44, Warren D. Copeland, 27, and Angelo C. Douglas, 25, were sentenced to prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said all but $20 was recovered and Vasser was ordered to make restitution of that sum.
Still’s other memories include assisting at the site of a small plane crash near the Diers Ford-Lincoln dealership on Broad Street. All three people in the plane survived.
He recalls a woman in a traffic accident on 23rd Street. She wouldn’t go to the hospital by rescue squad.
“I got to talking to her and looking at her and something didn’t seem right,” he said. “She didn’t make a lot of sense and I noticed her face was drooping on one side.”
He got her to go to the hospital, where the woman learned she’d had a stroke.
“She got medical attention. She could have gone home and might have had a real bad consequence,” he said.
Years ago, Still was among extra law enforcement officers and dispatchers hired to work during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.
He was in the law enforcement center there when he met a dispatcher named, Wanda.
“She was easy to talk to and she had a good sense of humor and a great smile. We just hit it off,” he said.
They had a long-distance relationship for about three years. They married on Sept. 29 and she moved to Fremont. Sunday will mark their 12th wedding anniversary.
The Stills are moving back to South Dakota, where she has family. They’re taking their rescue dogs — dachshunds, Reese and Bruce.
And Still will be taking a lot of memories.