Updated: March 01, 2021 10:32 PM
Created: March 01, 2021 09:17 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- From police reform to transparency, police departments across the country are changing. But the one thing that isn't changing is the emotional impact the last call has on an officer.
ABC 6 News shared the last call of Austin's longest-serving officer and share his story of what it means to be called to serve.
"I was the first police officer in my family," said Lt. John Mueller. "They always say you will know when it's time to retire from this job."
That decision to retire came earlier this year when Mueller passed his 30 years in law enforcement. After more than three decades, Friday was Mueller's last shift and his last radio call.
"73- this is 10-7," said John through his radio. ABC 6 News Anchor Laura Lee was permitted to be there for the special moment.
"It's my honor to announce that today is Feb 26th, 20-21 at 17-12 hours, L-T Mueller 73 has gone 10-7 for the final time," said Hannah Mueller through the police radio.
Lt. Mueller was the longest-serving police officer with the Austin Police Department.
"Wearing the badge is a matter of pride and hopefully I have wore it well in my 30 years," said John.
Badge number 73, Lt. Mueller started his career in 1991. He did a short stint in Fillmore County before coming home and serving in his community of Austin in 1994.
"This really is a career about helping people, as well as serving your community and being there for others and in the law enforcement community, it's being there for each other," said John.
"Lt. Mueller, thank you for dedicating the last 30 years serving and inspiring the community and acting as a role model not only to me but the whole department, you will forever be my hero, I love you, dad," said Hannah.
"73, you are officially 10-7 -- Congratulations," said John Junior (JJ) Mueller.
"Thanks 131, thanks 119, Love you too," said John.
Badge 131 and 119 also carry the Mueller name. John's son and daughter are following in his footsteps and are current members of the Austin Police Department.
"I knew when I saw him coming home with the uniform on, I knew that is what I wanted to do and in high school, I got to do a few ride alongs and that sealed the deal for me," said JJ.
"I think there are a lot of people in the community that look up to him, there's a lot of times I go on calls and people go, 'Is your dad Lt. Mueller? Oh, I love him and he's so nice and respectful and I hope people say the same thing about me someday," said Hannah.
Mueller says it's always been about helping people and serving his community. "I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have been able to help them, be of service to them, I've gotten as much out of it, and it's helped me probably more than I have helped others I don't know, but you wouldn’t be doing it this long if you didn’t truly enjoy doing it," said John.
And looking back on those 30 years he says a lot has changed in law enforcement.
"When I first started, our dispatchers had a pen and paper and they wrote things down and they would radio that to you and now everything is computer dispatching, it's immediate, it's quick," said John.
Despite the changing faces on the force and evolving technology, one thing does remain the same for Lt. Mueller, "first and foremost, treat people with respect, how you treat people will come back to you."
A lesson that has become his legacy and a message he leaves behind for future generations.
"Biggest thing he told us when we got into law enforcement is to treat everyone with respect," said JJ, "because you never know when you might need that person in the future and I think it has paid off in dividends I think in his 30-year career here."
While Lt. Mueller says the decision to retire his badge was one of the most difficult decisions of his career, he's got not just one, but two other badges that will continue to carry on the Mueller legacy.
"I literally am honored to have served my community," said John, "to my department, it's been a great tour."
Lt. Mueller says he's grateful he follows a long list of other officers who have successfully retired. In his retirement, he says he plans to spend more time with his family and devote more attention to his other roles in the community like planning the Mower County Fair.
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