Lt. Bob Musgrave Recognized As ZPD’s Longest-Serving Employee
On August 1, 2023, Lt. Robert “Bob” Musgrave was recognized by Zionsville Mayor Styron, who proclaimed that day as “Robert Musgrave Day” in recognition of his service to Zionsville Police Department, which is 45 years and going.
Musgrave is the longest-serving employee with ZPD and is a beloved officer in the community. I sat down with Musgrave to discuss how his career in law enforcement began and why he chose to never leave his hometown [Zionsville] or its police department.
When There Were Less Homes and More Cornfields
Back on August 1, 1978, Musgrave started with the Town of Zionsville as a police officer — one of five officers at that time. He first served as a firearms instructor and worked his way up through several promotions.
Having grown up in Zionsville, a product of Zionsville Community Schools, Musgrave shared that he has “never changed zip codes” and his passion for the community as well as for law enforcement, is what has kept him in Zionsville with the same police department and why he continues to serve our town as both a police officer and dedicated member of the community.
What many may not know is that Musgrave wanted to be a professional bowler or a trauma surgeon and never had his sights on becoming a police officer when he was a younger man growing up in the much less populated town of Zionsville.
“I was working at a hospital warehouse and had fallen and broken my foot that required surgery on my 20th birthday,” Musgrave shared. “I was bored one day, there was nothing to do, so I wondered if they [ZPD] would let me ride along in a police car. I went down to the police station and asked if they would let me ride … they said ‘sure,’ and then I never left.”
Zionsville in 1978 had a population of about 3,900 people.
“It [Zionsville] was so small,” Musgrave recalled. “The Pizza King that was off of Zionsville Road was ‘too far out of town’ when it first opened, we had the one flashing stop light down Main St. and Sycamore — St. Rd. 334 at that point —and nothing existed beyond the Speedway station except cornfields. Everybody literally knew everybody.”
When asked why he never left either the town or the police department, Musgrave replied, “I liked what I was doing, and I didn’t see a reason to leave. It is home to me, and I just haven’t had the desire to live anywhere else.”
More Than Four Decades Later
As the decades went by, Musgrave witnessed many changes to the town’s real estate, and with that growth came changes to the police department.
“The town has changed a lot,” Musgrave said. “And the department has gotten bigger. We’re up to 43 sworn officers now. Technology and equipment have changed. We certainly have gotten into community policing, and we work really well at making sure that we get out into the public and let them know that we are here to help and we’re here to be their friends. We help build relationships and work to improve the bond we have with the community so they feel safe and that they matter. We are really blessed to have support from the Town, residents and the community as a whole.”
When asked if younger or newer members of ZPD take advantage of Musgrave’s knowledge and if he ever feels like the department’s “historian,” he replied, “If I know the answer, I’ll give it to them, and I’m glad to share it with them. The nature of the stories is fun to tell. There’s a few of us [in the department] with 30 years plus [service] and then there’s a gap, some down to 20 years, and then a larger gap from 20 years [of service] on down. But they’re all great officers and they’re all here doing a wonderful job, making the community safe and helping somebody if we can. That’s the most rewarding part.”
An Inspiration To Younger Generations
I spoke with Musgrave about what it will take to inspire younger people to serve in law enforcement, given the current culture. He spoke honestly about the dangers of his line of work and the sacrifices made but countered the obvious risks with the perks and rewards that come with it.
“I think the last few years, ZPD has done a really good job of drawing people to law enforcement and our department,” Musgrave stated. “There are a lot of things about this job that get in the way of birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and all those things, but those of us involved in this work understand that’s part of the job. You’re going to miss things, but in order to be a police officer and do the job, you have to realize that you’re doing this [job] not just for yourself or your family but for all of our families too.”
Musgrave’s son, Ryan, decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and joined the Boone County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy.
“I’m proud of him,” Musgrave expressed. “Everything he does, he does it better than I do. I still worry about him. He’s got a family now, a wife and two kids. And I want him to be safe and come home every night, but he’s awesome at what he does.”
The evening that Musgrave received the official “Robert Musgrave Day” proclamation, he said it came as a complete surprise.
“It was certainly a total surprise,” Musgrave explained. “Nobody said anything, my wife Theresa didn’t say anything … I don’t even know if she knew [beforehand]. But it was a wonderful surprise, and I didn’t expect it.”
ZPD Chief Michael Spears offered a few words about Lt. Musgrave’s commitment to the department and the Zionsville community.
“Bob serves as a wonderful example to others about how a career in public service and dedication to your community can be an extremely fulfilling career,” Spears expressed. “He touches so many lives and makes a difference in ways that are sometimes known and sometimes aren’t [known]. I’m extremely grateful that he’s devoted his entire adult life to the people of Zionsville. I can’t go anywhere around town without people telling me something positive about Bob or a story about how he helped them, whether it was Bob knocking on someone’s door to alert them that their garage door was left open or spending time with someone in one of their most desperate moments.”
Information on ZPD and careers in law enforcement can be found on its website at zionsville-in.gov/176/Police.