A 31-year-old police officer has been honored following his unusually early retirement this year, the result of a seemingly innocuous thumb injury that would not heal.
Jon Alexander was on the Johnston police force for seven years, during which he frequently worked the midnight patrol shift, said Dennis McDaniel, chief of police.
"He was also a tactical operator for the Suburban Emergency Response Team," McDaniel told the Johnston Times.
Alexander's retirement was an unexpected one, as he is young and in shape, McDaniel said.
"Each spring, we engage in defensive tactics training, and in the spring of 2017 we were doing our striking and punching drills," McDaniel said. "In the course of doing our training, it's not uncommon for officers to get banged up a little bit, and Jon injured his thumb in the course of the drill."
Though such seemingly minor injuries are not uncommon, in the case of Alexander's thumb, weeks turned into months without any complete recovery, McDaniel explained.
"We found out that there were multiple injuries that had impacted his thumb, and tried to repair it over 17 months," McDaniel said. "There was not a way to repair it so that he could continue to be a police officer."
Alexander has been given medical leave, but he still stays involved in the police force, McDaniel said.
"His last day with us was Aug. 20, and in the course of that final working day, we did a final radio call; we also recently brought him back to a city council meeting to present him to our elected officials to award him with a shadowbox that has his badge and patch that he wore on duty," McDaniel said.
Alexander is still considered a police officer in the city of Johnston and has agreed to stay on in a volunteer capacity working with the officer wellness program and the peer support counseling program.
"For the most part, he's enjoying retirement and time with his new baby girl who was born this past summer," McDaniel said.
Our publication would not exist without the participation of our readers. Have a story? We encourage anyone with interesting story ideas or news to submit them to email@example.com