Even in retirement as a police officer, Lt. Alan Trisler will still be highly visible throughout the community.
While no longer required to attend roll calls, Trisler will remain:
President of the Fraternal Order of Police Local 89
Organizer of the annual Shop With A Cop campaign
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Owner of Audio Magic!, an entertainment company that provides music, photos and lighting for special events.
Team leader with the District 8 Disaster Task Force of the Indiana Department of Emergency Management
A skydiving instructor
While remaining busy, Trisler’s retirement from the Columbus Police Department will finally allow him to carry out other responsibilities without fear of being pulled away at a moment’s notice, the 57-year-old said.
“Big cases don’t happen when everyone is available,” Trisler said. “They happen when you are with family, at church, or at a wedding.”
But with each major career assignment over the past 36 years, the 1977 Columbus East High School graduate said he’s always enjoyed job satisfaction.
When he started as a patrolman, an accident victim that credited Trisler for saving his life sent him Christmas cards annually for the next 20 years, he said.
As a detective, he found strands of hair in three different locations that became key evidence in the conviction of a major felon, Trisler said.
“Just knowing your work will result in a case being cleared, or bring closure to victims and their families, is very satisfying,” the now-retired officer said.
When serving as the department’s public information officer, Trisler said he established strong relationships with many people through the Citizens Police Academy for adults, as well as the DARE program for children.
While Hollywood can leave the impression that law enforcement is always exciting, movies and television never depict all the necessary-but-mundane chores that go along with the job, he said.
A typical work week may include 39 hours of predictable activity “and one hour of sheer terror,” Trisler said.
Looking back, Trisler said the attitude toward police from one segment of the population has gotten worse.
During the 1980s when Trisler’s police career began, it wasn’t unusual for a person who got into a fight with an officer to come in the next morning and apologize, he said.
“Now, they come in with an attorney the next day and file a lawsuit,” Trisler said. “People tend to push the envelope more on the regular basis.”
Although law enforcement now has Tasers and other high-tech equipment for personal protection, there’s also a greater chance of encountering someone with a gun or a hidden and dangerous syringe today, Trisler said.
Due largely to social media and 24-hour television news cycles, people are more likely to jump to wrong conclusions about a police officer without knowing all the facts, Trisler said.
But on the other hand, respect of law enforcement has expanded among a separate segment of Columbus’ population, due to what Trisler describes as a backlash against national media stories alleging abuse by police.
Over the past three years, there have been more residents wanting to pay for his meals at restaurants — as well as bringing in gifts and food to the police station — than during the previous 33 years, Trisler said.
“We have a lot of people who say ‘This is Columbus, and we love our cops,’” Trisler said. “They want to take care of us, because we want to take care of them.”