City Council Chambers were packed with local officials, business owners, community members and police officers on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate one of downtown’s longtime police officers.
Robert Beckwell is retiring from the Olympia Police Department after 26 years of service, primarily in the downtown area.
“I’ve always enjoyed working for the Olympia Police Department and I’ve always enjoyed the downtown area,” Beckwell told The Olympian.
He joined the force in 1993 and served in various roles during his time in Olympia: walking patrol officer, motorcycle certified metro/traffic officer, SWAT team member, police training officer, and policing instructor.
Prior to joining the department, Beckwell served six years in the U.S. Army and has continued his service in the Army Reserves, where he holds the rank of first sargeant. Beckwell met his wife, Kim, while stationed in Japan. On Wednesday, she and his mother were in the front row cheering him on during the retirement ceremony.
After Chief Ronnie Roberts awarded Beckwell his badge of retirement, the crowd was invited to share memories and stories about Beckwell’s service. Current and retired officers told stories and jokes about Beckwell, highlighting his good nature and dedication to his work. Many officers cited Beckwell as an influential mentor to younger officers during his time on the force.
Downtown business owners and employees spoke about the important presence Beckwell has provided during a time of instability and change downtown.
Anna Schlecht, City of Olympia Housing Program Manager, recounted a time when she saw Beckwell bring warm coffee to a homeless man blocking a downtown storefront.
“I just thought, ‘Oh my god, you are such a kind and compassionate person,’” Schlecht said.
Beckwell said he is looking forward to retirement, but will miss many of his co-workers and friends.
“Just enjoy the time that you do have here, because it does go by quickly,” Beckwell said.