Chief Robert Kuhn will be ending his 44-year law enforcement career at the end of May. Kuhn has been with Mercyhurst Police and Safety since 2010.
“I grew up in Erie. I graduated from Gannon, with four years in ROTC. I was commissioned as a second lieutenant. It was right at the end of the Vietnam War. I volunteered to go but they were going through a RIF, reduction in force, so I was laid off so to speak. I wanted to make a career out of it but it wasn’t going to work out, so I traded uniforms,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn worked for the Erie City Police for 32 years then as a detective for the District Attorney’s office for six years before coming to Mercyhurst.
“I knew working [at Mercyhurst] was going to be my last job in law enforcement,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn came into the position of Chief of Mercyhurst Police and Safety experienced and ready to help the university.
“The guy who was chief, I worked for him when I was at the city [police department]. He called me up and said he was retiring. When I retired from the city, I was 32 years in and retired as Assistant Chief. I was used to being in charge,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn described the difference between working in a city and working at a university police department.
“[When working for the city,] you feel good when you clear a case and help the victims of a crime. Here, you’re trying to protect the kids, keep them out of trouble and keep them from outside influences,” Kuhn said.
Compared to his previous positions, working at Mercyhurst has been a calmer work environment for Kuhn. Kuhn recounted one of his most memorable cases from his time as a detective.
“My last case with the detectives before I got my first admin job, I got a case where a girl was raped and murdered. It took us 12 years to get a conviction but we did right before I retired. She had had a 10-month-old baby and that kid was 12 when we got the conviction and he was there, too,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn reminisced in another interesting case where he was involved in a surveillance detail. He was looking for a serial rapist who was attacking women in the area of Saint Vincent Hospital. The perpetrator selected specific women who were all about the same height and weight, in their mid-20s and had brown hair.
“Chuck [Kuhn’s partner] and I decided to follow him once we caught onto him as a suspect. We had nothing to go on but a hunch. We used my Cadillac. When he walked out we thought ‘not tonight, he’s got the baby,’ but we followed him anyway. We thought he caught onto us so we pulled away,” said Kuhn.
“Then, the radio call came in and he had attacked two women within minutes. We called in the license plate and we got him and everything we needed to crack the case.”
The most fun Kuhn had, however, was as a motorcycle officer with Erie City police. The mayor personally selected each officer, and they served as the protection detail for the mayor and other distinguished individuals.
“We called ourselves the ‘Chosen Frozen.’ Many are called, but few are frozen,” Kuhn said.
In retirement, Kuhn plans to enjoy time with his wife in Yadkin Valley, NC exploring the vineyards.