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After more than two decades of serving in Clinton as a police officer (among other roles) Jerry Dunn (shown here with Boston and Amigo) is retiring from the department to take a job with the state Department of Agriculture Animal Control Unit. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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Sergeant Jeremiah Dunn had a problem. The massive trailer that the Clinton Police Department was using for the annual toy drive that Jerry oversees was only about a third full with two weeks until Christmas. The department put out a call for more toys on its Facebook page.
“A week later that thing was full to the gills and we filled up seven more pick-up trucks,” Jerry says.
As he stood gazing about at all he toys the community had donated to the toy drive, Jerry recalls saying, “This is a walk-off. I looked at the chief and said, ‘This is it.’”
Jerry has decided to retire from the Clinton Police Department after having served in the town since 1993. He has started a new career as the supervisor for the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control Unit. The unit is responsible for investigating property damage and injuries caused by dogs as well as cases of animal cruelty.
“Given my experience in law enforcement and my love of animals, it seemed like a natural fit,” Jerry says.
Finding out he was offered the job during this busy time of year meant “it’s been a whirlwind to say the least,” Jerry says
Jerry’s career in law enforcement and public service dates back to his high school days.
“The day I turned 15, I volunteered to join the fire department,” Jerry says.
In fact, being a firefighter was Jerry’s first career interest, though he notes that back then only the cities had professional fire departments and the local area towns had volunteer fire departments. Instead, Jerry was encouraged to look into becoming a police officer.
“I became a police officer in 1982, less than a year out of high school, something you really don’t see anymore,” Jerry says.
He started as a part-time constable in Westbrook from 1982 to 1984, then moved to a fulltime officer in the town of Old Lyme. After nine years in Old Lyme, Jerry became an officer in Clinton.
Reviewing his 27-year career in Clinton. Jerry says, “The things I’m most proud of aren’t the cases but things I helped to create or expand.”
Among the initiatives Jerry had a hand in was a successful motorcycle charity ride program, the holiday toy drive, and the Citizens’ Police Academy.
The citizens’ academy is a 10-week class offered every spring to 25 to 30 people. The point of the academy is to give citizens a peek into what police officers in Clinton deal with and how they approach different situations. The attendees are given lessons in laws, get a chance to go on a ride-along, and go through supervised drills with police officers.
Jerry took over the program 15 years ago and say he worked to expand the program and to make it a more “hands on and active participation class.”
“It’s been very successful,” Jerry says.
Given his new position, it’s no surprise that Jerry is an animal’s lover.
“Over the last decade, I’ve became one with animals,” he says.
In 2013, Jerry, his wife Nancy, and their daughter Jessica started Old Post Shepherds. The family breeds German shepherd dogs for a hobby, which Jerry says “is a labor of love.” Jerry estimates in the years they’ve been doing the hobby seriously that they’ve given away close to 100 puppies.
“The dogs take up all of my time,” Jerry says when asked about any other hobbies.
Being a police officer isn’t the only way Jerry has served Clinton: Jerry was elected to the Board of Selectmen for four years.
“I was very happy. This was my town and I wanted to give back,” Jerry says.
Jerry says he was wary of partisan nature of small-town politics.
“I wanted to put party politics behind me,” he says. “I always said I was about the letter ‘C’ for Clinton.”
While the Jerry reflects that he did enjoy his time on the board, he ultimately decided it became too difficult to juggle his obligations to the police department and to the board. Besides the police department, Jerry worked with the Parks & Recreation Commission and became a Justice of the Peace.
Jerry grew up in Clinton and is a graduate of The Morgan School class of 1981.
Reflecting on the response to this year’s the toy drive, Jerry says that to him, that’s what makes Clinton special.
“I’ve worked in other shoreline towns and the people are just genuine,” he says.
While he says he’s excited about his new job and the prospects it offers, he insists that he will still be familiar face around his hometown.
As a recent interview in the conference room of the Clinton Police Department concludes, he notes, “It is hard for me to leave this building.”
Get ready to celebrate the holidays with our helpful guide