Back in December at the Vernon Police Department, Lt. William Meier and a room full of media members faced a perplexing question.
There was a pistol permit application - a pending pistol permit application - taken out by a man who traveled from Vernon to Wyoming and carried out a murder-suicide.
"Can we get the permit application?" someone asked.
Meier knew that the names on pistol permits were exempt from disclosure under state Freedom of Information law, but this was was different.
"Let me ask Lou," he said.
In about 10 minutes, Lou Palshaw not only had the answer, but had made copies and they were being distributed.
Palshaw, a former police officer, a walking FOI encyclopedia and an expert on law enforcement records, is retiring today after more than four decades on the job and in the office as Vernon's records supervisor. OK, he's hanging around for a few hours a day over the next few weeks to tidy things up during a transition, but as a full-timer, he's finally going to relax.
"Lou has been a valuable asset to the department who has a vast knowledge of laws relating to records retention, freedom of information, permits and police operations," Meier said. "I have gone to Lou with many difficult legal questions and he will usually know the answer off the top of his head, and if he didn't he knew who to call and get it."
Palshaw said he did not want any great sendoff and even begged off the traditional cake reception at the Vernon Police Department. Meier and Vernon Patch had to fake a story on building security to trick him into posing for a picture.
Of course during the conversations, he came up with enough good information for a future security story.
Palshaw's law enforcement career began in August of 1969 at the Glastonbury Department. He started in patrol but branched to areas like training and the detective division.
He has often told tales of frequently parking his car and going old-school by walking the beat. He also became well-versed in crime prevention matters.
He supervised two future chiefs as a shift commander - James Kenny in Vernon and David Caron in Glastonbury.
"He's one of a kind … Louie and I go back," Caron said. "He is one of the most knowledgeable people I know."
But it came with some quirks and Caron couldn't describe one of them without laughing.
"He is like a bulldog," Caron said. "When he gets an idea in his head, he goes with it."
Kenny described Palshaw the same way several days earlier.
"It was hard to change his mind on some things," Kenny said. In the same breath, however, Kenny said Palshaw's painstaking research habits were an asset to the Vernon department. He retired from Glastonbury in 1995, took four years off and then came to Vernon.
"He was a good cop and he has been a great person to have here," Kenny said. "He has helped us in a number of areas - not just FOI and records retention, but police work."
Meier remembers watching Palshaw in amazement one day.
"Lou's dedication to the job was incredible, I can remember watching him research FOI case law on his lunch break," Meier said.
Sgt. Kerry Reynolds added that is became a habit to skip over the computer and the manual and just head over to Palshaw with many questions.
Then she could not resist a joke.
"Well, unless the food truck is here," she said.
And Palshaw would not mind sharing his knowledge. Even during the fudged story incident this week (he tried to avoid having his picture taken), he began telling tales of murder investigations, community cases he broke wide open, writing - or not writing - tickets.
He also had the room mesmerized while describing security measures than can be applied to schools.
"Lou was a proud member of the Glastonbury Police Department for 25 years," Meier said. "Lou loved to talk about his time in Glastonbury and tell stories of his many big cases. He has given me a lot of valuable advice and will be missed here."
Brian Smith would probably agree. He would love to shrug his shoulders and say, "Lou's not here," on Palshaw's days off, a reference to him having to access the programs Palshaw devised for distributing the daily call and arrest logs.
Smith, a former Vernon cop, and Palshaw could hold court for an hour telling tales that ranged from amusing cases, local characters and old-time car racing on the area's dirt tracks.
So Palshaw did not want cake and said it might take some time to figure out his next adventure.
He also does not mind staying around for a while to help out, but he'll likely get his share of well-wishers stopping by today.
"He has been a valuable part of this department," Kenny said. "We will miss him."
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