WANAQUE, N.J. — "Retirement is a bad word," Wanaque Police Chief Thomas Norton told Daily Voice on Friday, his final day with the department after 34 years. "Retirement is for people who wear bathrobes and slippers and shuffle around.
"I'm taking a late-in-life employment correction."
Norton, 56, moved steadily through the ranks during a distinguished career.
He began as a dispatcher and special officer in 1979 before becoming a patrol officer. Eventually, he was commanding the detective bureau.
Accolades and honors came from, among, others, the VFW, Alliance of Wanaque and Ringwood for Education and Awareness for Substance Abuse Prevention, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Knights of Columbus.
Norton helped lead the department through a reorganization and move to a new building, which took a lot of time and energy, said Capt. Ken Fackina, who worked with the retiring chief all of his 27 years on the force.
"It's going to be strange" not having him around, Fackina said. "It's been a long time.
"As strange as it's going to be for him, I'm sure it will be the same for us."
Indeed, Friday's walkout was bittersweet.
"I'm excitedly scared to death," Fackina said. "I haven't been out of work since I was 14 years old. I'm going to miss everything here, but it's the right time."
Norton, who lives in Wanaque resident, said he'll miss his colleagues.
However, he said, "I can leave happy and know [the public] is going to be in good hands."
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