Officer Howard Hanson never expected to use a nursery rhyme on the job.
But the Fremont Police officer didn’t expect to find three men hiding in an unexpected place.
Hanson had been given permission to search a home. At one point, he walked into a bathroom and pulled back a shower curtain.
“I was quite surprised to see that there were three adult men standing in the bathtub. They were all fully clothed — thank God — and I remember saying, ‘Well, well, well, what do we have here? Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub.”
Even today, Hanson doesn’t know why they were hiding, because none of them were wanted by law enforcement for anything.
“But I thought it was quite amusing,” he said.
The memory is just one of many for Hanson — Officer No. 10 — who’s served with the Fremont Police Department for 30 years.
Now — after three decades of service — Hanson has retired. The police department hosted a retirement coffee in his honor on Friday afternoon.
Hanson started with the police department in January 1989. He was the last person hired while Francis Hurt was still Chief of Police. He’s worked under the leadership of Chief Tim Mullen and Chief Jeff Elliott.
“I became a police officer, because I enjoy helping the public if I can,” Hanson said. “It also helped that the job at the Fremont Police Department paid more than the job I left at the time.”
He’s seen many changes throughout the years.
For one thing, officers have gone from using Dodge Diplomat police cars with no cages or computers in them to Ford Explorers with all-wheel drive, computers and cages.
“This is a huge improvement for officers’ safety as far as I am concerned,” he said.
Other technology has changed, too.
Years ago, officers wrote out reports, which victims signed. Now, they take notes and enter the information into a computer.
“We used to be able to carry our own duty gun, but now we carry a department-issued gun,” he said. “This was probably a wise choice since we all carry a .40-caliber handgun now.”
Officers wear body cameras. They have cameras inside patrol cruisers to record their actions and conversations.
Hanson didn’t know if he’d like that. His opinion has changed.
“I can honestly say I do like this use of the body camera,” he said. “It not only helps me recall exactly what was said and the sequence of events, but it also helps if a citizen comes to the Fremont Police Department and makes an accusation/complaint about you. Administration can check it right away and let you know if you did something wrong or if your actions were totally OK with the department’s rules and regulations.”
Hanson has many memories from his time on the police force.
In the early 1990s, he and another officer were trying to serve a warrant.
The person they were attempting to arrest went for the other officer’s gun and a fight ensued. The individual got his hand on the gun and a round of ammunition went off while the gun was still in the holster of Hanson’s partner.
“My partner wound up getting a piece of shrapnel in his leg from this incident,” Hanson said.
Hanson and his partner arrested the individual who went to jail for a very long time.
Another situation was more personal — and poignant.
Several years ago, Hanson was called to a disturbance, which involved a pregnant woman.
The woman told Hanson that she was considering an abortion because she’d been using meth in the early part of her pregnancy. She didn’t want to have a child if that baby had been affected by her use of the drug.
“I left that day without talking to her about my thoughts and went home and prayed about it,” Hanson said.
The next day, officers were called back to her home and Hanson had an opportunity to talk to the woman.
She decided not to have an abortion and had a healthy baby.
“She has thanked me more than once for us having a talk that day,” Hanson said. “I truly believe that God and she made the right decision.”
Hanson notes there are several reasons for his retirement.
For one, he’s the oldest officer on the streets.
“I don’t feel as young and productive as I once was,” he said. “I believe that this job is meant for someone younger than the old, gray-haired man I’ve become.”
He points out the changes with technology.
“When I went to school, we had manual typewriters,” Hanson said. “Now that we are in an internet computer era with computer programs changing all the time, it is hard for me to keep up.”
And Hanson notes another very important factor.
“My family has also been wanting me to retire from law enforcement for quite some time,” he said. “It had been a goal to make it 30 years and I have accomplished that. My wife and I recently had our 39th wedding anniversary.
“For her and us, I decided to call it quits and let someone else take over my spot.”
Hanson thanks the City of Fremont for giving him the opportunity to serve.
“I will miss being around the officers as they share, between themselves – their stories, experiences and memories,” he said. “I will also miss the people of this town.
“Yes, this town has a few people who cause problems. What town doesn’t? But by and large, people should be happy to live in a town such as Fremont,” he said.
He noted something else.
“My career has been a very rewarding experience in many ways and I hope all the best for my fellow officers and this great city,” he said in a prepared statement. “My hope is that the law-abiding citizens of Fremont and my fellow officers stay safe.”