ESSEX -- Being surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, and other members of the community, Rick Garey officially retired from being Essex’s chief of police Friday during a ceremony in front of the station that wasn’t just warm in temperature -- but one that was filled with warm regards, memories, and thanks.

Garey was honored with gifts and well wishes from the Essex Police Department (EPD), other local agencies, town staff, and a political representative. Included in his presents were plaques, a badge, and an older service weapon of his -- on it, his name engraved.

“Thank you so much for your kind words, the emails I've received, your thoughts, and your sentiments and your gifts,” said Garey upon finally stepping up to the podium. “It's greatly appreciated. As most of you know, I am so very proud to not only be a Vermont police officer -- but honored and humbled to have been an Essex police officer for 31 years. I've truly loved this job. Sometimes more than others, but it has been a true calling in my life.”

Garey’s full-time career with EPD ended on July 17, 2020 after it had started 31 years before when he became a dispatcher in 1989. He was sworn in as the department’s 15th chief on January 13, 2018.

However, Capt. Ron Hoague -- who is set to be sworn in as Garey’s successor on Monday -- said that Garey will still be helping out Essex Police on a part-time basis as an advisor to the chief and helping with “special projects.”

Hoague joked that those special projects -- unbeknownst to Garey -- would be riding along with EPD’s bike patrol unit. Unified Manager Evan Teich also suggested that Garey would be a good fit in running the entrance booth at Indian Brook Park.

On a more serious note, Teich expressed his gratitude to Garey for not only his work over the many years -- but for putting the department in a position to continue its success after he retires.

“I came here two and a half years ago,” said Teich. “I started working with Rick. After having just a few conversations about the Essex Police Department, I knew it was in good hands and it was headed in the right direction. Rick is responsible -- along with his entire staff -- for the second-largest community in Vermont, and they do it with excellence and with the community in mind. I'm going to miss this man, but I know that he has trained everybody underneath his command, and we are in good hands. So with that, Rick, thank you for all your dedicated service -- and your family as well as well… for allowing him the time and effort to be our leader.”

Teich was followed at the microphone by Essex Public Works Director Dennis Lutz, former municipal manager Pat Scheidel, former EPD chief Leo Nadeau, retired EPD lieutenant Ken Beaulieu, Rep. Linda Myers from the Vermont House of Representatives’ Chittenden-8-1 district, Lt. Robert Lucas of the Vermont State Police Williston Barracks, Lt. Peter Hull of the Colchester Police Department, Capt. Robert Stebbins of the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office, and Steven Trenholm -- battalion chief with the Essex Fire Department.

Among the speeches, Hull reminisced about the times that Garey had to “ride a drunk cowboy to the ground in the beer tent” during the fair and when the outgoing chief had to “wrestle a lubed up, deranged individual on Main Street.” Hull finished by turning and giving a quick message to Hoague.

“I know you've got big feet, but you've got big shoes to fill,” said the Colchester lieutenant.

Other speakers touched upon how vital the relationships between Essex Police and other area agencies have been in supporting the community -- something that Garey echoed in his address.

“I want to thank our municipal departments, Essex Rescue, our fire departments, and their staffs for your support of the police department, and myself, for over the many, many years,” said Garey. “It has been these relationships that have helped us keep our community safe on a daily basis, and I thank you for those relationships. I also want to thank our other local law enforcement partners at a federal level, our state police, and our local police departments for the incredible support and partnerships that they have provided over the years… We cannot do this without each other, and we have always been there for each other. And that's how we get the job done. So thank you for your support.”

Garey went on to thank the many people who have worked “behind the scenes,” including members of support staffs and dispatchers, along with singling out Beaulieu, retired corporal Edward Piro, and Administrative Assistant Michelle Hogdson.

“I could not do the chief’s job without [Michelle],” said Garey. “She is faithful, hard working, and her patience keeps our administration office in this department running on a daily and yearly basis. My work with Ken and Ed are some of my fondest memories working here at the Essex Police Department.”

Garey then worked through getting choked up as he recognized some of the most important people from his tenure -- a group which never wore the EPD uniform.

“I could not do this job without the support of my family,” he said. “A police officers’ family also often sacrifices birthdays, holidays, and special times so that the officer can do the job that they have sworn to do. So I'd like to start by thanking my father and my mother for their support and love over my whole career. I'd like to thank my sisters, Minnie, Lisa, Kelly, and Sarah -- the whole crew of them -- for their ongoing support and faith. I would like to thank my daughter, Samantha, and my son, Sean, for their unwavering support and love during my career as a police officer and the sacrifices that they made. I love you. I would also like to thank my partner, Amy, for her incredible patience, love, and support. I could not have done this without you.”

Chief Garey concluded by praising fellow officers from all throughout his career.

“You are all such incredibly-talented and hardworking and caring people,” said Garey. “The citizens of Essex are lucky to have such dedicated officers. I am so proud to have worked with all of you as part of this incredible police department in this community. You have so much to be proud of. Stand tall.”

Garey then walked out in front of the podium, turned, and gave one final salute to the men and women donning the EPD badge. As he drove off the station’s grounds, the officers stood at attention next to their cruisers which lined the driveway’s entrance -- blue lights flashing.

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