Former Eau Claire police officer looks back at 32-year career


By Ben Petersen

John Moen, a former police officer of 32 years for the Eau Claire Police Department, looked at his experiences during his police career and the changes he has seen in law enforcement. © 2017 Ben Petersen

Each day most wake up, go to work, go back home, eat, drink and sleep.  Most have an average idea of what will occur on their average day of work.  Most have some sort of daily routine set.  However, for police officers, this is often not the case.

“Every day is a new day and you really don’t know how it’s going to play out until it’s done,” said John Moen, a former police officer for the Eau Claire Police Department for 32 years

Moen, 62, was born in Eau Claire, went to Memorial High School and to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire from 1973-1977 with a degree in criminal justice.

Throughout his police career, he worked in many different roles. He served first as a telecommunicator, where he handled 911 calls for Eau Claire County in 1978. He became a patrol officer for the Eau Claire Police Department in 1980 and was promoted to patrol sergeant in 2000.

“I wanted to strive to go to the next level,” Moen said.  “Patrol supervisor had always been a goal of mine and it ended up being my favorite position.”

As patrol sergeant, Moen coordinated the crisis negotiation team.  The crisis negotiation team is a group whose members work to diffuse unstable situations like suicides or hostage cases.

Kyle Roder, a current officer for the Eau Claire Police Department, was a member of the team that tackled crises while Moen was coordinator.

“(Moen) coordinated the team, he coordinated the trainings, he got the role players, and made the scenarios,” said Roder, who is now currently the public information officer for the department.  “On scene, he was the commander of our team.”

Originally Moen was one of the negotiators on the team, but when he was promoted to patrol sergeant he took over the role as coordinator of the team.

“I enjoyed all the administrative side of making that all happen and taking the team to the next level,” Moen said.

In addition to his work as the crisis negotiation team coordinator, Moen was also the police chaplain liaison. Not only was Moen the liaison for the program but was also one of the people who established the program in Eau Claire.

“I went from being part of the planning team and then was asked to be the police chaplain liaison, who was the coordinator of the program,” Moen said.  “We’d meet monthly for training and administrative coordination and allow them to get to know each other and how to work better together.”

The members of the team would be used at homicides, suicides and other critical incidents to be a liaison between law enforcement and families, support those in serious conditions or their families and many other methods of supporting those in trouble.

Moen himself is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Eau Claire and during his time in college was a camp counselor for Luther Park Bible Camp.  As a Christian, he said, he was able to connect his faith back to his work.

“I think it helps you with a positive outlook, a support system and it partially played into my role in the police chaplain program,” Moen said.

In June of 2011, Moen decided to retire from the Eau Claire Police Department after 32 years, 11 of which he held as patrol sergeant.  In his years of working at the Eau Claire Police Department, Moen noticed there has been change from when he started to his retirement.

“I think we’ve always had a support of the community,” Moen said. “I think the types of cases have increased and changed.” Later Moen added, “I think officers are probably receiving more calls involving guns, knives and increased threat levels than at the beginning of my career.”

One of the things that many people do not understand about being a police officer is all of the stress they must deal with on a daily basis.

“I think the average public doesn’t understand how many deaths we see whether there are natural deaths, or suicides or on rare occasions homicides,” Roder said.  “I can remember driving through the city, specific locations, that I time my brain to that location of being a death investigation.”

Both have had to draw their guns at some point during their careers, though, Moen said in many of his situations it was just standard procedure.  Some officers, in fact, have difficulties transitioning between their police career and home life as well as psychological issues, however, Moen felt that he handled this problem well.

“I tried to balance it with good healthy outside activities, hobbies and tried not to live it 24/7,” Moen said.

Moen’s at home life includes his wife, Leslie, and his two adopted daughters from China, Makayla, 18, and McKenna, 14.

Now that he has been retired from the police department, Moen currently works at Mayo Clinic at the Luther Campus Clinic in Eau Claire where he is the lead security officer, a position he described as quite similar to his previous career, but far less time intensive and allows him to develop new hobbies and spend more time with his family.