Celebrating Long Serving Cops

Celebrating Long Serving Cops

By Stephen Owsinski

Recently, the NYPD hosted a celebration of the nation’s largest municipal police agency’s long-serving cops, bestowing the department’s Longevity Award upon seasoned law enforcement officers.

Embroidered onto police uniforms are stripes and/or stars representing the tenure of service invested by law enforcement officers. As seen in our cover photo above and the image below, a batch of seasoned NYPD detectives was honored on June 16, 2023, for their storied careers stemming from policing Gotham through decades of change.

Can only imagine the legacies of these veteran cops and the metamorphosis they’ve witnessed through decades of crimefighting…and the politics that muddied the waters year after year. The current day is a prime example.

(Photo courtesy of the Detectives’ Endowment Association.)

And that underscores the point: These salt-and-pepper-seasoned justice pursuers have anchored against the tumultuous tides and did the job to the best of their abilities and personal constitutions.

“Congratulations to our highly skilled and experienced veteran Detectives who were honored at today’s NYPD Longevity Ceremony at 1 Police Plaza. A special salute to the DEA Board Officers who were recognized! Their dedication is unwavering,” an NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Association spokesperson said.

The legacy in law enforcement, portraying cops who have served for quite some time, is customarily represented in a shadow box, aggregately containing the first badge pinned at swearing-in ceremonies and the ones that come with every promotion thereafter.

Accompanying the badge collection is a correlated shoulder patch array emblematic of the agency (or agencies) in which a cop has served. With those main staples behind protective glass, framed for a wall or perched on a credenza in a police retiree’s home or office, are all the bits and pieces of hardware that ordinarily adorned a law enforcement uniform, indicating membership in certain specialized units or for a skillset catered to the men and women of the public safety organization.

Although the aforementioned police accouterments are typically metallic (silver and/or gold), color is added thanks to the many challenge coins and chest-pinned ribbons and medals illustrating service recognition and major feats, including official honors symbolizing surviving the astronomical perils of duty (9/11 medallions and ribbons). 

(Photo courtesy of the Pinellas Park Police Department.)

The shadow box, like the example pictured above, emphasizes the law enforcement longevity and legacy of one police official. In the example we included, Pinellas Park Police Chief Michael Haworth was honored for his recent retirement after serving the citizens of the Floridian city for three decades.

“Chief Haworth began his career in 1990 and has spent his entire law enforcement career with the Pinellas Park Police Department. He worked in a variety of assignments, including patrol, criminal investigation, vice and narcotics, SWAT, and research and planning. He was the Pinellas Park Police Officer of the Year in 1995 and received his first promotion to Sergeant that same year,” a Pinellas Park police spokesperson said.

Chief Haworth kept busy…until he reached the pinnacle after years of police service/experience.

“In 2015, he became our Chief. His leadership has taken the Police Department to the next level of policing, implementing new equipment and technology, including integrated data analysis into patrol operations to drive proactive policing. Under the leadership of Chief Haworth, this agency enhanced community policing, pushing community policing teams citywide,” his retirement bulletin delineated.

Sounds like Chief Haworth made quite a mark on his police agency and its future, from which his successor will spring and bolster further.

It is ideal to see homegrown police talents remain and flourish with/for their respective agency. I’ve seen a bevy of police retirements lately. Whether any of these are due to the fester of anti-police climate or political inhibitions is anyone’s guess. However, of note is that each of these put in 20 or more years of police service, so that is reason enough, deservedly.

Some law enforcement agencies allow for lateral transfers (cops serving at one agency then departing for another) to “carry over” their time served. This is customarily displayed on the Serving Since pin affixed to the uniform breast-pocket area. A friend of mine with whom I served on a midnight shift squad of cops was just hired by his fourth police agency; some retirements of cops barely collect any dust before they get the itch to once again don a duty belt.

So, this cop cohort may get to display his Serving Since pin in the aggregate…or he may not. With that explained, anytime you observe an LEO’s Serving Since pin, it is easy to do the math, but it may not necessarily mean that is all the time they have on The Job. Some legacies have pit stops.

Some law enforcement legacies are libraries. Take, for example, retired police Detective Phil Markey who just celebrated his 93rd birthday.

(Photo courtesy of the NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Association.)

Mr. Markey celebrated his birthday on Father’s Day 2023. I don’t know about you…but I know I’d be all ears in the presence of a legacy crimefighter who has endured almost a century of life in the Big Apple and still wears blue well. Indeed, longevity in law enforcement even extends into the golden years.

One can imagine the breadth of tales these veteran cops have to share. Pretty certain each of these lifelong cops is taken aback at how law enforcement officers are mistreated today.

An LEO having served in law enforcement for an impressive period is praiseworthy, thus garnering Longevity Awards to hallmark the endurance, perseverance, and dedication to duties of a police official who recited that special oath, lived it to the letter, and survived to receive honors, standing ovations, and robust rounds of applause.