Salute the Badge: Chief J.T O'Grady has no plan to retire anytime soon

Published: Feb. 4, 2020 at 9:53 AM CST
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After more than 30 years in law enforcement a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper decided to retire, however he quickly learned it was not for him.

Chief J.T O'Grady joined the Metropolitan Topeka Airport authority in 2014, after retiring for just 31 days as a State Trooper.

"I didn't want to sit in a desk all day and I decided that I was going retire and had the opportunity to come out here and be a part of this department," Chief J.T O'Grady said. "I started out years and years ago in the fire side and then I defected and went into the police side and spent a career there."

Chief O'Grady says this line of work is different than before, "It's different because there is a different mission. The guys here know they are the number one priority for me."

"This is the kind of career that you have to invest yourself in if you're going to be good at it, and being good at it doesn't matter what's on your shoulder sleeve or what's on your collar, it's what's in your heart and what you each and every day," Chief O'Grady explained.

He says he enjoys the lessons that come along with the job.

"The thing being here is just we never know what's coming here. But working as a team helps us out here," Chief J.T O'Grady said. "That's important because we want to be sure you do the right thing because this is the kind of work that if someone messes up, it can cost you your life."

Chief O'Grady learned those lessons during an unforgettable moment that occurred in the past.

"Since I been here One of the highest fires I've been at, we went and helped out with a self-storage unit," he explained. "We were approaching a door and we didn't know there was a large cooking size canister of propane and it let loose and blew through the door about 10 feet from us that caught our attention. Like we say every day you don't know how dangerous a call we're on until we're there and we're through it. The guys did a real good job, everybody did the right thing and nobody was hurt and we were able to put the fire out."

He says that experience taught him to remain strong at all times, "I love doing the job, that wasn't traumatic that was another day."

"These things happen and they're never planned and you have to respond to them in the right way," he said. "We're all in this for the same reason. We wanted a job where we get to help people and Very few people get to do that and I feel really blessed that I've spent my whole adult life doing that."

Chief O'Grady hopes to continue to teach his team about integrity.

"The number one thing that I was always taught that I try to teach now is that treat everyone with respect and dignity as if it was your family."

When he decides to "officially" retire there's one thing Chief O'Grady hopes to leave as his legacy, "Hard worker and a loyal, a loyal back up that you can count on me if something was going wrong, I'd be there to help you. That's it."

Chief O'Grady says he has no expiration date on retirement and he plans to continue living his life helping in the community.

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