Several members of the Boone Police Department recently voiced how they will “sorely miss” the friendly and reliable nature of one of their own as the retirement of a 28-year officer nears.
Officer Glen Kornhauser is no stranger to most of the Watauga County community, as he can often be seen on King Street. Wanting to spend more time with his wife and children, Kornhauser has decided to hang up the uniform and retire. His last day with Boone Police is Nov. 27.
Boone Police Patrol Lt. Bobby Creed said Kornhauser leaving Boone Police is like “losing a part of the culture” at the department.
“Glen has a good heart, he’s a good person and he cares about people,” Creed said. “Glen is always there for you; no matter what was going on or where you’re at, you can always count on Glen.”
Kornhauser was born in New York and moved to Charlotte with his parents when he was 2 years old. He graduated from South Mecklenburg High School in 1984 and then attended Central Piedmont Community College. In August 1990 he started working with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy sheriff, since he said back then people could be sworn in and then enter a training academy.
Kornhauser graduated with 41 other officers the following spring and said he graduated at the top of his class. At that time, Kornhauser became an execution deputy who would execute court orders such as evictions or claim and delivery. He stayed in this position for seven years and then became a bailiff for the last year and a half that he was with that sheriff’s office.
With the news of his first child on the way — who is now 25 — Kornhauser said he decided he didn’t want to live in Charlotte due to the high crime rate. He then applied to several law enforcement agencies in the western region of the state, but had noticed that many of the agencies weren’t paying well or that officers were at the agency as a stepping stone to to move on to a larger department.
Kornhauser was impressed by Boone Police because the officers were local people who loved the community. Additionally, Kornhauser said he had fond memories of Boone as his family would visit the area — he had vivid memories of visiting Tweetsie.
Of the 20 applicants vying for a position at Boone Police, Kornhauser received the job and started work in December 1994. He entered the department as a patrol officer and stayed in this position for two and a half years before becoming a traffic enforcement officer. In 2000, Kornhauser was approached by the former Boone Police Chief Bill Post about a school resource officer position at Watauga High School. He served in this role until 2004.
“It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in law enforcement,” Kornhauser said. “For a lot of people and kids, you’re their very first contact with the police. You have to maintain that friendly, approachable demeanor; at the same time you have to be stern and fair.”
Kornhauser added that the way he would treat students could impact how the students would’ve treated officers in the future. Because of this, he wanted to show them kindness and respect.
Many of the students at WHS during that time knew Kornhauser as “Officer K.” Sometimes walking down the street people will still refer to him by the nickname, he said.
The next seven years of Kornhauser’s career were spent as a general investigator. It was in this position Kornhauser said he enjoyed interviewing those involved in a crime — victims, witnesses and suspects — as he genuinely was concerned for people, and felt that his friendly demeanor made it easier for people to talk to him.
“You’re building a rapport with somebody well enough that they begin to trust you and realize you’re not out to see them incarcerated as much as you’re actually just trying to solve the crime,” Kornhauser said.
Lt. Shane Robbins, Boone Police’s special operations commander, said Kornhauser developed into a solid interviewer and always had good quality investigative work.
“If you had someone difficult to talk to no matter what the circumstances, Glen could relate to them; he could talk to them,” Robbins said. “He can find some common ground with about anybody.”
While he felt confident in his interviewing abilities, he said interviews were likely one of the most challenging parts of law enforcement he’s encountered. He said while he’s been in physical altercations, interviews can be mentally exhausting. He recalled an interview process he had with a man accused of child molestation who later admitted to the actions.
“After that one I had to take a few days off to clear my head,” Kornhauser said.
Kornhauser has also been a part of the department’s Special Response Team involved with shootings, serving high-risk search warrants and man hunts. While he enjoyed the training associated with the SRT, he eventually left the team.
Kornhauser decided to leave investigations and went back to being a patrol officer. He was named as the primary downtown officer in 2016 after the retirement of Officer Mike Foley.
As the downtown officer, Kornhauser investigates crimes in the area, checks in with downtown businesses and assists visiting tourists. Robbins said the next downtown officer has “big shoes to fill.” According to Robbins, Kornhauser was the best person for the role of the downtown officer because he talks with the public and immerses himself in the community.
Over the years Kornhauser has also been involved with the police explorer’s program as well as the Cops in the Classroom program. The explorer’s program — now known as the High Country Law Enforcement Explorers as a joint venture with local agencies — allowed teens and young adults interested in the field to explore the career. Kornhauser recently received a message from a man who went through the program, thanking him for the help and patience Kornhauser showed to him.
The Cops in the Classroom program allows classrooms in the Watauga County Schools system to adopt a cop, Kornhauser said. Kornhauser would go by a classroom once a week to eat lunch with the students, as well as conduct a short program about topics such as how to call 911 or the importance of knowing one’s address.
Kornhauser said he once received a message from a parent whose daughter was upset because someone in the car wasn’t wearing a seatbelt — because that was a lesson Kornhauser had taught to kids.
“I had that kind of an impact, and that’s really cool,” Kornhauser said.
Kornhauser may also be known as Santa to some, as for the last few years he has dressed up as Santa Claus when directing traffic at Hardin Park as students leave for Christmas Break. He said it’s a carefree and fun way to relate to kids and make them happy.
Outside of law enforcement, Kornhauser enjoys shooting sports and cooking — especially Italian. During the Nov. 19 Boone Town Council meeting, Police Chief Dana Crawford conferred an award to Kornhauser for his service and said the department will miss his cooking.
In addition to spending time with his family, Kornhauser said he might get back into shooting wedding photography — a business he found himself in years ago. But he said he would do it on a smaller scale this time around.
Kornhauser is also a collector of medium- to high-end watches. He said his love for men’s dress watches started when he was 21 after his father died. His father left him a Longines watch, and since then he has added more then 70 watches to the collection. He said he can do minor watch repairs and loves restoring old or broken watches.
The decision to retire didn’t come easy, as Kornhauser said he’s going to miss his “second family” at the department. He said the bond he shares with his coworkers is strong, and that it’s heartbreaking to leave them. He said it has been an honor to serve Boone and to see the community grow.