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  • by Barb Shelton with Sharnessa (Shelton) Sanden

Cop's Last Shift and Final Sign-off

At 6:30pm on September 15th of 2017, after a 39-year career at the Kelso Police Department, my husband, Officer Dave Shelton, signed off for one last time. If you'd like to hear "the rest of the story," stay here and read on. But if you're in a hurry and just want to see the video of him signing off, here you go! (I hope you'll come back and read the rest when you have a couple minutes!)

Backing up 13 hours from sign-off time, Dave and I were doing what we've done hundreds of times throughout his 39 years of being a police officer – having our morning coffee together in the living room...

Dave sitting in chair at home, morning of last day / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

Over the years, I have drawn/written on many disposable cups for Dave to take his coffee to work in. (He preferred these over travel mugs because he didn't have to bring them home to be washed.) "I love you" was a common one, or I might draw a scene of some sort, flowers, snowflakes, fall leaves, him fishing, a police joke... just hundreds of different drawings, most of them "simple but sweet," though once in a while I'd do what I called a "masterpiece."

There were days I didn't make him one, and guys at work would ask if I was mad at him!

Wanting to spice it up a bit for Dave's last few weeks of work, but being low on ideas for "masterpieces," I asked several friends and family members to draw/write on cups for him. Here are just a few of these disposable works of art:

8 sample cups / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

I wanted the cup for his very last day to be super-special, so I had everyone in our family do a different letter or section of it. (Same cup; six views so you can see it all.)

6 views of Dave's last cup / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

And here's Dave heading out the door one last time with said cup in hand!

Dave heading out for work on last day / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

When police officers sign off for the last time after a career in law enforcement, it's traditional for them to say something a little extra for their final sign-off. This can be pretty emotional as it's the ending of an era.

It's emotional for anyone to arrive at the end of a long, successful, and productive career, but for police officers who put their lives on the line every time they don their uniform and head out for another shift, there's even more of an element of joy, relief, and gratitude for having physically survived a law enforcement career!

And, amazingly and almost surrealistically, Dave had made it to his last shift! Later on in the day, I had the privilege of going riding with him. Two reasons: It was my last time to see him in action on whatever his last few calls would be! Plus, of course, I wanted to be there to see his final sign-off.

Barb riding with Dave in cop car on last day / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

Knowing full well he would cry when actually signing off, Dave nonetheless allowed our son-in-law, Sam Sanden, to record the event. Not just audio, but video, too! Now that takes a real man!

Officer Dave with son-in-love, Sam / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

(Dave and Sam)

When the time came for his last sign-off, Dave pulled into the back parking lot of the police station and parked, and I moved to the back seat ~ where the suspects sit ~ so that Sam could film Dave's sign-off through the passenger window. (So that explains the grid...)

Dave signing off, through grid of the back seat of cop car / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

Several of Dave's co-workers were nearby, though out of sight, awaiting the big moment. Some were in a cop car and others were in the station... listening for the final sign-off.

Our son, Tory, a police officer in the adjacent city of Longview, listened in his police car at home, on his police radio. (Here's the father-and-son cop duo, respective cop cars behind them.)

Officer Dave Shelton with our son, Officer Tory Shelton / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

(Photo taken a different day,

but close to his last day of work.)

Our daughter, Sharnessa, was there, too. In fact, it's her turn to talk now...




her Dad’s


Sharnessa with her cop daddio, Officer Dave / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

(Sharnessa and her "Daddio" at

Glazy Dayz Paint Your Own Pottery

studio when he stopped by

on duty to say hi.)

This video is of my precious Daddio doing his final sign-off after 39 years of service at KPD. He faithfully served the community of Kelso, Washington with integrity, bravery, joy, humility, justice, strength, wisdom, humor, patience, loyalty, grace, and a whole lot of love.

He holds the title of the Kelso cop who has served the longest in Kelso's history.

He was a father-figure to many young people for seven years as the School Resource Officer at Kelso High School as well as being the DARE Officer for four years before that. When these now-grown kids see him around town, Dad still gets a very enthusiastic "Hi, Officer Dave" from them. And I've often gotten an excited "You're Officer Dave's daughter?!!" when I've met them over the years. SO sweet!

He brought a whole lot of laughs, light, and love (and snacks, lol) to his comrades.

My hubby, Sam, had the privilege of filming this video during this hard, profound moment...

Sam videotaping Dave signing off / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

...while my boys and I sat in the KPD parking lot, me with welling-eyes, anxiously awaiting the go-ahead that this chapter was over.

I am so excited about this video as there is so much junk that's shared about cops, it's sickening. Unfortunately it's usually the few corrupt jerks who get the attention.

But I want people to get a glimpse into the heart of what MOST cops are like by watching a man with thick skin and a tender heart choke back tears through his entire final sign-off. Enjoy, and please share, friends! THIS is the kind of thing about our cops that needs to go viral!

(And this is being shared with his blessing, fyi!)


[Back to me, Barb] Inside note before you watch this video: Dave is not just patting, sighing, swallowing, scratching, sniffing and lip-stiffening throughout that whole first 35 seconds; that's all him trying to keep his composure and not cry knowing how emotional this was going to be...

So... Are you ready?!? ... Here it is!

(I cry every time I watch this!) The moment Dave finished his sign-off and clipped his mic back in place, doors of the nearby cop cars and the back door of the police station burst open, and Dave's co-workers made a beeline over to Dave. Lots of handshakes, hugs, pats, congrats, well-wishes, and, I'm not saying this for sure, but there may have been a few tears.

Right after sign-off, officers come out to congratulate Dave / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

Well-done, Hon!

You made it to the Finish Line

of your career with much to

be proud of, and many people

who will miss you!



The story itself is done. But in case you're wondering about Dave's final reference to zip-lining, he wanted me to add this...

Family has always been a huge priority for Dave. So when trying to figure out a way to celebrate his retirement, he came up with the idea to treat his family to a zip-lining excursion at High Life Adventures, and dinner afterwards!

Here's all of us after the last zipline run, all glad and relieved that we made it to this point alive and with all appendages intact!

The Shelton Fam right after zip-lining / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

(We're just missing our little 2-year-old Henry who was too young to go, but, being the little monkey he is, would have enjoyed it the most!)

Here's Tory jumping off the "Zwing." This is zip-lining on steroids! Instead of just zipping along on the line, connected by a 3-foot lanyard, you're connected by a 20-foot lanyard and swing from side to side instead of just flying straight.

Tory jumping off the Zwing / Cop's Last Shift & Final Sign-off /

(Here's a 29-second video clip on their website of someone ~ not us ~ doing it, if you're curious what it looks like. All of us except Jonah did this!)

And here's the gang at dinner in Astoria, Oregon!

The Shelton Fam at dinner in Astoria / Policeman Signs Off One Last Time /

A wonderful end to an

amazing career, but the

beginning of the rest

of his life!

If you enjoyed this and want a GOOD cop story to be heard, PLEASE SHARE! (Social media buttons are a little further down.) Click here to go to the page where you can sign up for my email list!

And finally ~ feel free to leave a comment below! I will show it to Dave! He loves getting them, and will be sure to respond!


Hexa-pic of blog article: Policeman Signs Off One Last Time /

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