MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - After nearly three decades in law enforcement, a Minneapolis police officer turned in his gun and badge Friday morning. At Olson Middle School, students say he’s irreplaceable.
“I knew they appreciated me, I just didn’t realize it was that much,” said Officer Gary Duren.
Reflecting back on 27 years in uniform Officer Duren has seen a lot. Starting his career with State Patrol, he then moved to the Minneapolis Police Department where he has worked a variety of different beats, including the SWAT team, mounted patrol, bike beat, and spent the last six years as a school liaison officer.
Perhaps one of his biggest surprises came from the lineup of students outside his office this week begging him not to retire.
“There’s not a lot of people you can go to, but Officer Duren you can go to him.,” said eighth grader Tyverrius Turner.
“He’s different from other police officers because he's fun he’s fun to work with,” said eighth grader Donesha King.
“I thought all officers were kinda mean, and only wanted to arrest people until I met him,” said eighth grader Triniti Finney.
Often armed with fruit snacks, candy canes, and plenty of jokes, Duren prides himself on being able to read the facial expressions and body language of his students. Something he chalks up to years of experience.
“Middle school is ripe with drama and he has a great knack for knowing when kids may need somebody need dysregulated or to check in with them,” said principal Dr. Steven Emerson. “It prevents a lot of stuff that could happen here.”
“As officers we do tend to end up in the homes at the worst times of a family’s life, so we understand where they are coming from,” said Duren. “Some of the teachers might not understand.”
Challenging and rewarding, he says there's a lot he will miss about his job.
“It’s been hard because this has been half my life. I still love the job. I still respect the job,” said Duren “Making connections with the people - I will miss the relationships.”