NORTHFIELD VILLAGE -- Police officer Fred Jones was nearly speechless when he saw a driverless horse and his attached sulky bolting down Northfield Road after escaping from Northfield Park.
"I couldn't believe it," he said.
Jones, with the help of a few other Northfield Village and Macedonia officers, eventually corralled the horse on Feb. 8, 2015. The event was listed on the proclamation he received from Mayor Jesse Nehez and Village Council exactly two years later when he retired as a police officer after nine years with the village. Fellow officers on hand when he received the proclamation chuckled when the incident was mentioned.
The horse charged through a gate and exit at Northfield Park, headed southbound on Northfield Road and made a right-hand turn onto Valley View Road with Jones and other officers in pursuit.
"I didn't know what to do at first, so we followed the horse. After he turned onto Valley View Road, he got stuck in a snow drift. I took my cruiser and nudged him just slightly, and he stopped. The horse could have gone on forever," he said, smiling.
Jones said one of the best parts of his career was having his mother, Kayann, watch the video of the pursuit before she died.
"She just laughed and laughed," he said.
Jones, 53, who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, spent much of his career as a full-time police officer and a part-time firefighter. He served as a Munroe Falls police officer from 1984 to 1986 before taking a job with North Randall police. In 2004, he returned as a part-time officer in Munroe Falls, where he still works today.
He began working full-time for Northfield Village police in 2008 and was appointed crime prevention commander of the newly established Northfield Village block watch in 2012.
He was also a part-time firefighter in Munroe Falls from 1988 to 2014, leaving as a captain.
"I can't pick which one I liked the best. It depends on the day," he said. "I know police work better, and the fire department was more of a learning process."
Jones told village leaders it was "a privilege working for Northfield Village. I've worked under some great officers here. I appreciate everything you've done. It's been an honor. It really has. I can't believe that I've done 32 1/2 years and it's finally over" as a full-time police officer.
"They've got a nice little town here with some of the best guys I've ever worked with," he added afterward. "I'm looking forward to my next adventure although I'm not sure yet what it is."
Mike Lesko: 330-541-9432