Being a police officer can often be a thankless and dangerous vocation. But when one U.S. police sergeant decided it was time to throw in the towel after an impressive 28 years on the job, his send-off melted hearts all over the world.
In 2016 Douglas Hogate Sr. was 50 years old and living in New Jersey. A committed family man, Hogate Sr. had also devoted a big part of his life to the police force. Indeed, he had risen to the rank of sergeant and had presumably worked to keep the Salem City community safe for 28 years.
So what do you when you’ve protected and served your neighborhood for almost three decades? Well, for many police officers, it becomes time to take a well deserved break. And by April 2016, Hogate Sr. also felt that he needed to bring his career in the force to an end and retire.
Fortunately, his son, Doug Hogate Jr., also works on the force. In fact, he had been a dispatcher for nine years by the time his father retired. It seems that policing, then, runs in this family. So when Hogate Sr.’s final day arrived, it was no surprise that his son was involved.
After all, Hogate Sr. had devoted 28 years to the police force, so there was no way that his last day would be allowed to pass totally unmarked. That’s why his daughter, Jenna Keen, was on hand to film him making his final radio call.
The beginning of the video clip, which rapidly went viral after it was uploaded to Facebook, shows the police sergeant sitting in his squad car. Then he picks up his radio for the very last time and calls in his “Code Three,” officially signing off.
But it’s what happened next that sent the internet into an emotional spin. You see, the voice on the other end of the police radio belonged to Hogate Sr.’s son, Doug. His subsequent words caused the retiring police sergeant to cover his face with his hands.
Indeed, in the clip, Hogate Sr.’s son utters some truly touching words over the radio. “It is a great pleasure to announce that, as of 1800 hours on this date, after 28 years of service, my father, Salem City Police Sergeant badge number 612, is retiring, and giving his final Code Three,” he says.
Hogate Sr. then appears overwhelmed by his son’s words and pushes his glasses onto his head so that he can rub his eyes. But the dispatcher goes on to say something even more heartwarming. “It is my honor to acknowledge his Code Three to the greatest man I know,” he says.
To conclude the moving send-off, Hogate Sr.’s son officially signs off his father. “You are officially Code Three at 1800 hours,” he says, concluding the radio communication. Upon hearing these words, the police sergeant looks into the camera and flashes a humble smile.
Finally, there is one task left for the sergeant: he brings his hand to the radio to utter one final message. “Thank you, Sir,” he says. And with that, his retirement is official. “All done,” his daughter says from behind the camera.
Next, a colleague rushes over to Hogate Sr.’s car window to greet him. The two men share a hearty handshake marking the end of Douglas’s 28-year career in the police service. Keen continued to film the emotional moment, and soon afterwards the clip hit the internet.
Indeed, the Salem City Police Department first uploaded the video of Hogate Sr. officially leaving the police department to its Facebook page, where it quickly gained momentum. Then TV station Fox 13 News got hold of it and posted it to its own Facebook page, too. And that’s when the clip went viral.
In fact, the version on the Fox News page gathered more than 7.5 million views and thousands of comments and shares. Yes, people seemed to love watching the sergeant’s emotional last moments serving his community. The video quickly gained the attention of international viewers, too.
One fellow ex-officer commented, “Congratulations from an English Police Sergeant who retired nine months ago from the Merseyside Police Force in England. You have completed your last tour of duty — now enjoy your well-earned retirement and the next chapter in your life — you have earned it.”
Meanwhile, many citizens took the opportunity to express their gratitude towards Hogate Sr. and his colleagues. “Sgt. Douglas Hogate Sr. Thank you for your 28 years of service as a Peace Officer and protector of the city that was entrusted into your hands while on duty. May God grant you rest from this day forward during the years of retirement,” one grateful person wrote.
And Hogate Sr.’s family think he is a pretty special man, too. His son even told website NJ.com how his dedicated dad had “put everything off to the side to focus on his career. It’s something that is amazing for someone to do; he is the greatest man.”
Hogate Sr.’s son went on to describe his childhood, which he said was spent “at the police station.” That insight reinforced just how important a role the police department played in his father’s life. And it served to make the story of his departure all the more poignant.
But the retired sergeant said he won’t be letting go completely. “It’s just odd right now that I’m not going to wear a uniform any more or be on patrol. I’ll still listen to what goes on,” he told NJ.com, clearly keen to stay in touch with his old colleagues.
So while it’s seemingly common to see police officers criticized these days, the online community’s reaction to Hogate Sr.’s retirement was universally positive. And the congratulations and thanks arguably go to show that there is still a lot of respect for police officers and the daily work they do.