St. Marys' 'Mr. Magoo' to Retire from the Force He Has Spent Nearly 50 Years in Law Enforcement

Article excerpt

ST. MARYS -- Detective Dar Hendrickson walks into the Criminal Investigative Division of the St. Marys Police Department, removes his trademark fedora and lays it atop a stack of papers that sits next to four boxes of Dinty Moore beef stew.

The 71-year-old detective retires next month after nearly 50 years in law enforcement, but nobody could tell it from his desk. Case folders are piled so high they look like Lincoln Log structures held together with yellow sticky notes and the occasional pink message slip.

Co-workers are hoping he'll reconsider.

"I would venture to guess he is probably one of the older police officers in the state," said Ryan Powell, director of the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council. "He's certainly worthy of retirement. He's had a long, healthy career."

Lt. Bobby Clark, a St. Marys detective, said it's rare to find an investigator with Hendrickson's longevity or talents.

"Dar should have retired at 63, but he loves what he is doing," he said.

Hendrickson joined the St. Marys Police Department at age 59, after becoming dissatisfied with early retirement.

"I was climbing the walls," he said.

'MR. MAGOO'

Hendrickson and his wife, Joy, left early retirement and relocated to Woodbine for the St. Marys job. Now, Hendrickson is one of the oldest active duty cops in coastal Georgia.

St. Marys Police Chief Ed Wassman said Hendrickson immediately impressed him.

"I knew Dar would be someone that we could all learn from," he said. "It's a treasure just to stand with your hands in your pockets at a crime scene and watch him work. Reading his narratives are like reading a book."

Hendrickson's file is filled with citations, awards, letters of commendation and certificates of specialized training. But his personality shines the brightest.

"We call him Mr. Magoo because of his felt fedora and glasses," said T.J. Sievers, of the St. Marys Police Department, "But he has a mind like a steel trap. It's like working with Columbo or any other detective character that you've ever watched on TV or read about in a book."

Hendrickson's habits are legendary -- co-workers say he seldom drives faster than 35 mph even to a crime scene, prefers to work alone and never quits asking questions.

"There's stress in this job if you let it get to you," Hendrickson said. "But the secret is don't let it. When police officers tell me they are stressed out, I tell them to go find something else to do."

Hendrickson said good detectives listen without becoming part of the story.

"Why should I get my blood pressure up? You cannot become a part of every problem that you face," he said.

Hendrickson said he's content with a few small triumphs.

"If you can prevent a few kids from ending up in jail or you did the best you could do to solve a problem, that's enough," he said. …