Wayne Kem: Key figure leaving sheriff’s office

Lt. Wayne Kem of the Cole County Sheriff’s Department

Lt. Wayne Kem of the Cole County Sheriff’s Department Photo by Jeff Haldiman.

After 43 years of service in the National Guard and law enforcement, Wayne Kem says it will be hard to get used to not having to get up and going to work on a regular basis.

Kem is retiring from his position as a lieutenant with the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, where he has served in various capacities the last 13 years.

“It’s been rewarding to help people,” he said. “You don’t get to do it often, but when you do, it makes the job worth it. You have a grandma whose TV was stolen, and it may not seem like a lot to you or me, but it’s a lot to her. And when you get it back for her, it means a lot.”

Before coming to the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, Kem worked four years in the Stoddard County Sheriff’s Department and then 24 years with the Missouri National Guard.

You name it and Kem has probably done it during his law enforcement career.

From working the road, to collecting evidence, to training deputies, Kem has been involved in every aspect of sheriff’s department operations.

“There’s always something new every day,” he said. “It’s not about carrying a gun and a badge. Tools to fight crime have improved. Still, it takes a lot of hard work to get things done.”

Kem doesn’t plan to just quit. He said he has told Sheriff Greg White that he will be available to help whenever he needs him.

The hardest thing for Kem to do will be to see if he and his wife, Ruth, can match up their schedules to do things.

“She’s been retired from teaching for three years,” he said. “I’ll travel or do whatever she wants me to do.”

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