DrydenWire.com is very excited to announce the newest correspondent to our team, Al Hobbs. Al will be writing on a wide-range of topics on Law Enforcement, but will be focusing mostly on the human element in his future segment titled: "Behind The Badge". Along with over 35-years of Law Enforcement experience, Al brings a unique writing style that allows him to connect with his readers. The following is his introduction to you. Please join us in giving Al a warm welcome.  

Hello, Wisconsin!

Monday, June 5, 2017 | by Al Hobbs

My name is Al Hobbs, I'm a police officer in Northern Illinois, a suburb just North of Chicago and along the Lake Michigan shoreline, which of course makes us commonly referred to as a North Shore Community. Makes sense right?

So what, if anything, does this have to do with the fine folks of Northern Wisconsin? Well, other than the fact that I can successfully point out Shell Lake and Spooner on a map 9 out of 10 times, actually quite a bit.

While true I do not live or work there, never have, I do have ties to your wonderful piece of our earth. You would not know it by the name, but perhaps my dashing handsome good looks might be somewhat familiar to you. I am the brother of the Washburn County Sheriff, Terry Dryden. Terry, handsome in his own ways, a bit taller and quite a bit older too I might add, has been the Sheriff, as you know, for a good number of years.

Terry and I also share the fact that we are "brothers in blue" or in the County's case, Brown. We are both in law enforcement and have been for many many years.

As such we have thousands of brothers and sisters in law enforcement around the nation and across the globe. It really is a brother/sisterhood.

Sure we all have different issues that face us daily based on the communities, cities, counties, states, and nations we serve, but we are more alike than we are different. Big Inner-city cops have their hands full with violence and crime on a daily, if not hourly basis, while other cops may go weeks, months or even years without ever having to use force of any kind to effect an arrest or execute and perform their duties.

In addition to my big "older" brother being Sheriff, in my youth, I spent many a summer in the Shell Lake area. We had family up there even before my brother and his family moved there from Chicago over 40 years ago.

I've swum in "the" Shell Lake, driven the back roads of County Route B where it intersected with O; I always found that amusing, being on the corner of B&O. Hey, I was young, it was the little things I found humorous. I've ridden horseback through your woods, picked ticks off my arms and legs, hunted, fished and when unsuccessful at either, eaten at all your Main Street diners.

Does this make me one of you? No of course not, I would never be so bold. But it does in my mind make you part of me. After all my brother, his wife, kids... now all adults with children of their own... all live in the general area. I'm vested in you if you know what I mean. I care about you and your community.

Remember all those other brothers and sisters in blue I spoke of, working in places and jurisdictions from A to Z. Well, I've been in law enforcement over 35 years. I have worked in almost all aspects of it and for just about every agency from A to Z as well. I have been "sworn" and worked at the local (city), county, state, and federal levels and even in the Military.

Likewise, I have had a varied career as well. Patrol, Evidence Technician (ET) - although the current common title is CSI, Field Training Officer (FTO), Investigations, Juvenile, Gang, Homicide, Violent Crimes, Property Crimes, Bomb & Arson, SWAT, a marine deputy on a rescue patrol boat on Lake Michigan, Child or Special Victims Exploitation Units and, as computers became relevant in our life, a Digital Investigation & Computer Forensics Specialist. Once computers really took hold, and especially now with smart cell phones, almost every crime I can think of or area I mentioned above also has ties to a digital media\storage device as well.

My career has taken me all over the United States and to many foreign nations as well. I have had violent assignments and woken up to page-outs (remember pagers!) for a barricaded subject, or multiple murders. I have worked national and international investigations and even worked undercover.

I retired from full-time law enforcement in 2002 to take private employment where I eventually became Vice President of a computer forensic software company. In addition to executive duties, I also developed and taught digital investigator and forensic methodology. I did this for 15 years, giving me the opportunity to meet with Law Enforcement Officers (LEO's) and professionals from all over the globe.

Being at my core a police officer or LEO, I was only out of the field a short period, quickly pinning a "star" or badge back on, at least part-time within a month of my retirement in 2002. There are many heroes out there who wear a badge as part of their daily attire. Many with much more interesting stories than I. Many officers with specialties that they could fill pages describing in detail to you.

Me? I only wish to share with you that no matter the interaction, no matter the call, from simple assistance to violence and perhaps death, there is a person of flesh and blood, of feeling and emotion on the back side of that badge you see. My only desire is to share the personal side of that badge and have a bit of fun and smiles along the way.


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