Abilene officers

This picture taken sometime in the 1970s includes members of the Abilene Police Department. They include, back row from left, Steve Cathey, Cecil Doris, Larry Cole, Ira Duer and Don Poore, front row, Willis Rowe, John Anderson, Jack Meehan, Phyliss Acker and Chief Fred Garten.

For over 30 years, when a new officer joined the Abilene Police Department, the officer in charge of training was usually Ira Duer.

Duer Joined the Abilene Police Department in 1968 and served 36 years before retiring in 2004.

Many of his fellow officers returned to Abilene to attend Duer’s funeral on Saturday.

“If you could sit down with a kit and build a policeman, that is what you would build,” said Larry Cole who joined the department in 1978. “He was absolutely well schooled in everything.”

Cole said it was Duer that trained him initially.

“Primarily, Fed (Chief Garten) put all the new guys in with Ira because he had been there a long time and knew the ropes well,” Cole said.

Cole recalls that all of the officers were a close-knit group.

Cole left in June 1982, joining the Kansas Highway Patrol.

“He was probably one of the nicest cops I’ve met in my 33 years,” said John Nachtman.

Fred Garten was the chief of police when Nachtman worked as a dispatcher and jailer and first met Duer. Nachtman was a sheriff’s deputy and worked with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. He is now back as the investigator for the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office.

“He was just a good-natured guy. I never heard him say a foul word about anybody which is just an outstanding trait,” Nachtman said.

“He was a jewel with Abilene, Kansas,” he said.

“He was kind of a rock, these old guys have told me, for the Abilene police department,” he said. “He always tried to steer all these young officers to do the right thing.”

Kenny Moore said when he came to Abilene from another police department in the spring of 1973 the first thing he noticed was the department’s honesty.

“It always impressed me that the officers kept that department clean,” Moore said.

He said the officers looked after one another.

“He was a special person,” Moore said of Duer.  “He was like the glue that held those officers together.”

Moore said that Duer, who also farmed, had the personality of a farmer.

“He was laid back. He would stop in the middle of the street to talk to someone and wave people around.”

Moore said Duer often got confessions.

“He wore them out,” he said. “They would just give up and confess.”

He said Duer had a calming nature.

“Many times when I would get upset over something, he would calm me down, help think it through,” Moore said. “I think he did that with all of us. He was an amazing stabilizing force and he watched over the department.”

Moore was appointed Dickinson County Sheriff in 1981.

Don Poole, who recently retired as the chief of police at Paola, said he started at the Abilene Police Department when he was 20 years old. His first training officer was Duer.

“I  have been a police officer now for 43 years and he’s one of the best men I have ever met,” he said of Duer. “The thing that impressed me was how he treated people. He always had a smile on his face. He was always able to laugh - just a good example for other officers.”

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.


Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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