At last night's Northern District Community Council, chair Lisa Boyce read aloud the following letter on the occasion of Community Relations Officer Jon Walters' retirement after 22 years of dedicated service.
Others spoke about the significance role played by Officer Walters in the many communities making up Northern District. His partner, Doug Gibson and his commander, Major Sabrina Tapp-Harper, shared warmly their thoughts and feelings about how Jon helped them while serving our neighborhoods so well.
Many people present noted that they considered Jon not just a very special police officer but also a friend.
Lisa's words ring true for many of us in the Northern District who will miss him though fortunately for us he won't be going far as Jon has accepted a new job nearby on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus.
It is a bittersweet moment when you say good-bye to someone with whom you have collaborated over the years and this is no different. On the one hand, I know that you will enjoy the next chapters to be written beyond the ones that you will close with the Baltimore City Police Dept. You will find new ways to contribute, to serve and to give back because that is who you are. Indeed that is why you are the personification and essence of an outstanding police officer – one who serves the citizens.
On the other hand, we in this room and in this District and in this City will be saddened by your retirement and the loss we will feel when we lift the phone to leave a message or peck at a keyboard to leave you an email only to remember that you are no longer at your post. You have been a gentle and generous partner in our communities for many years and we will miss you standing guard at a road race, watching over a Grand Prix or a HonFest, guiding traffic after a ballgame, responding to an urgent call for help, riding patrol when you get deployed, answering the call to come to yet another community meeting and giving good guidance and counsel to those who seek you out.
Throughout the District, you have been to every corner, you have spoken to thousands of neighbors, you have walked miles and miles, you have shaken hands with our leadership, you have volunteered to assist many of our neediest during the holidays and you have met us where we are in our neighborhoods. It is your grin. It is your open and easy manner. It is your willingness to pitch in, day or night to make an event go well. I distinctly remember the time when you and Doug stood in the rain engraving the tools that had been lent to build the Playground at Stadium Place – because you said you would be there, you gave your word and because you really care about our community and our City.
You have not been afraid to tell the truth to a citizen or to the Major. You have advocated for your fellow officers and your leadership but moreover, you have been the voice of our neighborhoods within the Police Dept. Your special insights about the nuances of each block, each corner, each patch of green space and each community organization have strengthened the Police Dept.’s ability to serve and protect in ways that we’ll never fully appreciate.
Thank you for being our liaison. Thank you for doing your job well. Thank you for not giving up on any one of us, even when we proved to be frustrating or inconsolable. Thank you for your many long hours of service over the past decades. Not everyone can lead such an exemplary life of service and purpose. Some of us do not and we are glad when you help them find a different path. (Even if it means some time behind bars!)
Know that we will miss you. We hope that you do not say good-bye as you are always welcome in our neck of the woods.