MAUMEE, OH (WTOL) - At 22-years-old, Sgt. TJ Stratton began working at the Maumee Police Department. He didn't leave for 35 years.
"Everybody's so much better because we've known him or worked with him," said Patrolman Jeff Medere, Maumee Police Department.
Friday was Sgt. Stratton's last day in the department. It was full of hugs, handshakes and letters.
Dozens came to wish him well at his retirement party.
Sgt. Stratton started out as a fresh-faced kid, and has gained the respect of his friends in law enforcement.
"TJ Stratton exemplifies what it means to be a public servant," said Officer Medere. "Not just, you know, 35 years with the police department, he's served our country 20 years in the Navy."
He was also the guy reporters would call to get information.
Now a call to his office phone gets this instead:
"And if you need to contact me, please reach out to the United States Department of State, they'll be able to find myself and my lovely bride somewhere in the Caribbean," said Sgt. Stratton' voicemail.
Sgt. Stratton says one of things he'll look back on is forming the Citizen's Police Academy 16 years ago.
"That was a wonderful way for me to reach out the community, so I've got an awful lot of new friends that I wouldn't have had," said Sgt. Stratton.
Now, the years of pounding the pavement are behind him.
He says he'll miss the community interaction.
"You know, going from the police officer now to the, the citizen," said Sgt. Stratton.
He's stepping out of the department, but not out of people's minds.
"You ask yourself, you know, you're running a race and are you going to finish well? And he has," said Maumee Police Chief Jim MacDonald.
Chief MacDonald says Sgt. Stratton brought a lot of integrity and honesty to the job.
"Really is a person that we're very lucky to have worked with," said Officer Medere.