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Lamers retires after 36 years of Cottage Grove police work

Longtime member of the Cottage Grove law enforcement community, Gina Lamers celebrated her retirement with several city employees. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)

Gina Lamers has done it all in the realm of law enforcement.

From a uniformed police and field training officer to her work as a negotiator with the Washington County Emergency Response and Special Response teams, Lamers spent the last 36 years of her career dedicated to serving the public.

On Jan. 31, she turned in her belt and one of the city’s last remaining pagers as fellow officers and city personnel thanked her on her last day before retirement.

“She was really focused on what we’re trying really hard to bring back and that’s community-based policing,” Cottage Grove Police Chief Craig Woolery said. “She just has so much history with this community that it’s hard not to know her.”

Lamers first began her career with Cottage Grove law enforcement in 1977 as a police dispatcher. For several years, she guided officers and emergency response personnel to incidents across the county. She then went on to obtain her peace officer license, and in May 1982 was sworn in as a police officer.

“She had a tough job as a police officer,” Woolery said. “But she was so good about connecting with the community and staying in touch with senior citizens and spent a lot of time at the schools.”

Three years into her career as an officer, Lamers joined the Washington County Emergency Response Team as a negotiator where she worked for 13 years. She transitioned to the county’s Special Response Team in 1998 and returned to street patrol in 2010.

“She’s an institution,” Woolery said. “I mean she worked with everybody. We lose a lot of experience and knowledge with her retirement. She was a key asset.”

Deputy Police Chief Pete Koerner echoed the sentiment, saying Lamers had “a heart of gold.”

Just before 3:30 p.m. Friday and surrounded by officers she had spent the better part of three decades with, her final sign-off, or 10-7, made its way across the airwaves. Lamers smiled through the tears.

“The dedication to your job has been unmatched,” the dispatcher said, a message that was heard on police radios across Washington County. “We wish you all the luck in your retirement.”