In some respects, former Hillsboro police officer Jerry Schmidt may have had a tough exterior, but two former coworkers said the 25-year veteran was a kind-hearted individual who had a funny sense of humor.
Schmidt, 75, died Jan. 29 at Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita.
Chief Dan Kinning said Schmidt was the assistant chief when he started at Hillsboro Police Department in 1984.
“He raised me and trained me as a young officer,” Kinning said. “He came across as a ruff, gruff cop, but he really had a kind heart, you had to know him to understand that.”
Through their interactions, Kinning came to understand that Schmidt loved his hometown.
Schmidt returned to Hillsboro after serving as a supply sergeant in the Vietnam War. Hillsboro City Council member Byron McCarty hired Schmidt as a police officer after Schmidt returned from his tour of duty.
“I liked Jerry,” McCarty said. “(As the former chief of police), I thought he’d be a good fit because he knew so many people from growing up here.”
Schmidt’s seemly tough exterior made some people think that he was mean, but McCarty said Schmidt was a “nice guy at heart.”
He said they spent time playing cards, talking about their military service, and playing practical jokes on each other and other police officers.
“I think he was stationed around Saigon, but he told me while he was there he never had to shine his boots,” McCarty said. “Since he was a supply sergeant he just got a new pair out of storage every time his boots got dirty, and it worked.”
McCarty said Schmidt also added a list of numbers to radio police transmissions that had a secret meaning known only to officers.
“While Jerry was stationed at Fort Riley there was a chaplain that thought the guys were cussing too much, so instead of cussing he had made a list of numbers for certain bad words,” McCarty said. “Well, Jerry brought that with him and we used those numbers. It worked. Nobody knew what it meant except for us.”
Practical jokes that involved calling dispatchers and asking them to run tag numbers on Mickey Mouse, John Travolta, and people with long or unusual names were other memories of Schmidt that McCarty shared.
“We had a lot of really good times,” McCarty said. “He was a great guy. He’ll be missed.”