After 18 years as a member of the Fort Dodge Police Department, Jason Kahler has decided to hang up his uniform and retire.
But Kahler, a lifelong Fort Dodge resident, said his retirement from the department doesn't mean he's going to stop working.
In fact, Kahler is leaving one job for another, dedicating his retirement to running Dale's Corner Store, which he bought from previous owner Dale Thompson in October 2011.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jason Kahler, owner of Dale’s Corner Store, gets a few minutes to collect his thoughts between customers Thursday afternoon. Kahler, an 18-year veteran of the Fort Dodge Police Department, is retiring and will, among other interests, run the store.
"I wanted do a more hands-on approach rather than managing from a distance," Kahler said. "I thought it would be something different."
Going into full-time management is something Kahler has always been interested in.
"Something I've always wanted to do was work for myself," he said. "That opportunity presented itself last year when Dale was getting ready to retire. I knew it was a good business so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity."
The shift from public safety officer to private business manager is one that Kahler is looking forward to, but he admits he'll miss his colleagues at the Police Department.
"We had a great camaraderie and a great team spirit," he said.
But he added that he considers himself lucky that he was able to work a second full-time job while he's still young.
"I feel fortunate that I've been able to work for the Police Department for all those years and still be able to leave young enough to start a new career," he said.
Kahler joined the FDPD when he was 21 years old after he briefly served as an officer with the Dayton Police Department.
In his tenure with the Police Department in Fort Dodge, Kahler said he held many different roles.
"My last assignment was as a patrol officer," he said. "I'd also worked as a firearms instructor, and was the canine officer for six years. I also worked just about every case we had, and held just about every position except for shift supervisor."
Kahler said he also went to local elementary schools to speak with students about bike safety, and over the last several years was in charge of supervising the local Neighborhood Watch programs.
"That was interesting, because you have a lot people with different agendas," he said. "There were a lot of challenges, and it wasn't easy, but if you can get everybody to pull together and focus on one common goal, you've made them stronger."
Being a police officer gave Kahler insight into how people interact.
"I'm fortunate that I got to see and do so many things," he said. "There's a lot that I wish I hadn't seen, but it builds character and grows you as a person."
Kahler said he's most proud of his service to the community.
"I loved being able to serve the community in that role and having the public's trust and support," he said. "I'm very proud to have served."
Police Chief Tim Carmody said Kahler will be missed at the department.
"We're always sad to see a veteran go," he said. "We appreciate his dedicated service and his passion and wish him the best."
Kahler said he believes the department is in a good place and will keep getting better.
"Chief Carmody is bringing in new, fresh ideas," he said. "I'm confident the department as a whole is, and will continue to be, the best department the community can ask for."
He added that he's looking forward to being a part of the future of Fort Dodge.
"I want to take a business that's already successful and build upon that," he said. "I think Fort Dodge has a bright future ahead and I want to be a part of it."