LISBON, N.D. — As Lisbon’s first female police officer, Chief Jeanette Persons has earned a few nicknames in her career.
When she trained to become a fully licensed police officer in 1997, she was 49 years old, roughly 25 years older than the other trainees in her class.
“They gave me the nickname Mom,” the 71-year-old said. “A couple of them, they still call me that when we see each other.”
The police chief of 14 years has decided to hang up her badge. The Lisbon Police Department held a retirement party for Persons Thursday, Dec. 5, and her last day is Dec. 15.
“It’s a combination of mixed feelings,” she said when asked how she felt about retiring. “It’s just opening up a whole new chapter in my life. It’s going to be very strange not being employed.”
Persons has been with the department since 1997, and she was promoted to chief in October 2005.
She's one of at least three female police chiefs currently serving in North Dakota. Most recently, Robyn Krile was sworn in last week as the Lincoln police chief.
Jacquelyn Halonen became New Town's police chief in August, according to the New Town News, a weekly publication.
Originally from the small North Dakota town of Dazey, Persons said she always wanted to work in law enforcement. “Since I was a little girl, I was always fascinated by it,” she said.
She got a part-time officer license in 1994 so she could serve as a Barnes County Reserve deputy.
Persons had a number of jobs before she was fully licensed as an officer. She worked as a secretary at Valley City State University, as a correctional officer in Valley City and even as a security guard at California’s Magic Mountain amusement park, now known as Six Flags.
She has one child and five grandchildren. When she was first hired as police chief for Lisbon, a town of roughly 2,100 residents about 75 miles southwest of Fargo, she told The Forum her grandchildren called her "Grandma Cop Car" — another nickname that stuck.
Mayor Tim Meyer said Persons is very professional and has helped the city win numerous grants for equipment. She's also been heavily involved with outreach to children through programs like “Shop with a Cop.”
“She’ll be missed,” Meyer said. "She's very good to work with."
Persons said she plans to travel, visit friends and spend time with her family in retirement. Senior Officer Tim Jordan will take over as chief on Dec. 16.
"He will do a great job for this community," Persons said.