BELDING — In the early minutes of March 27, shortly after midnight, Sgt. Judy Taylor of the Belding Police Department signed out of service and into retirement.
“674,” Taylor radioed to Ionia County Central Dispatch, reciting her badge number.
“Go ahead, 674,” Dispatch Director James Valentine responded.
“I will be out of service; it’s been a pleasure,” Taylor stated.
“Thank you, you, too. Enjoy your retirement,” Valentine concluded.
And like that, with a final click of her radio, Taylor put her 32 years and five months with the Belding Police Department, 15 of them as a sergeant, in the rearview mirror, moving forward into retirement.
Taylor was hired to the department in November 1981, having just previously worked eight months at the Webberville Police Department.
Hailing from Lansing, Taylor never expected to stay long in Belding, but said she is glad to have built a life in the community.
“I got married and life happened,” she said. “Belding is a nice community. For an outsider coming in, the community has embraced me. I have lots of friends; this is my home. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.”
Taylor said she wasn’t sure what initially made her pursue a career in law enforcement, but added she was influenced by working in an office close to law enforcement.
“When I got out of high school I got a job at Lansing Community College,” she said. “The office that I worked at was right across from the law enforcement offices. I just got to talking to some of those people and I felt that would be a cool and exciting thing to do.”
Taylor said a lot has changed in her profession over the years, from new laws and procedures to new technologies and shifts in organizations.
For many years, Taylor said work was very much like a family atmosphere with dispatch having been located on the second floor of the police station and the fire station located next door.
But looking back, Taylor said she is happy to have served as many years as she did and is looking forward to enjoying retirement.
“It’s a tough job, it really is,” she said. “Working different shifts, nights, weekends, it takes a lot of effort. I’m happy to be moving on.”
Taylor said she’ll spend her summer learning to golf and will then seek a part-time job in the fall, possibly working court security for either Montcalm or Ionia County.
Belding Police Chief Dale Nelson said the longevity of Taylor’s career with one department is something to be admired.
“It’s very impressive for anybody to complete a carrier and put in that much time in one organization, public sector or private sector,” he said. “But especially in law enforcement, especially in today’s world, it’s very impressive.”
According to Nelson, Taylor was just the third woman hired into law enforcement in Ionia County. In her time with Belding, he said she led many initiates to get students and children better acclimated with the police department.
“She was a D.A.R.E. officer with the department for several years, as well as a ‘team’ officer, she trained on specialty projects to teach in the schools,” he said. “She really gave of herself and got involved in the school aspect of law enforcement, which is very important. It gave the school staff and students a chance to see a policeman in a different light. Judy was really exemplary as far as maintaining a good report with the school and students.”
Belding Mayor Ron Gunderson said he was very thankful of the years that Taylor gave to help protect the city.
“I want to thank Judy for her years of service and dedicated commitment to the community,” he said. “Even though she has been through difficult situations in her job, as any officer will encounter, she has always been able to conduct herself accordingly and professionally.”