ADRIAN - Sheriff Richard Germond admits that he wasn't quite ready to call it quits.
But Michigan's longest-serving sheriff insists on making his retirement from the Lenawee County sheriff's department a smooth one.
Sheriff Germond will officially give up his title at midnight Jan. 31. And in honor of the man who has been the county's top police officer for the last 36 years, local dignitaries, county employees, and several members of the public streamed through the sheriff's office yesterday to bid farewell to one of the county's best known figures.
“I will walk out with my head high, proud of what I've done and proud of what we've got here,” said Sheriff Germond, who is 65. “I've had a good career. I guess if I had any regrets, it would be that I didn't make my own decision to retire.”
Sheriff Germond vied for a 10th term as sheriff this November. But Adrian police Detective Larry Richardson defeated the long-time sheriff 21,275 to 15,269.
At the same time, a proposal to build a jail was defeated overwhelmingly.
A retirement package for the sheriff, who made an annual salary of $72,841, has not been finalized.
Since his Nov. 7 defeat Sheriff Germond has continued working, business as usual, hoping to finish some of the projects he had begun. But through the last month he has been acutely aware a changing of the guards was imminent.
“I have mixed emotions. It'll be the bitter and the sweet,” he said. “I know that it'll be the last time I'll walk out the door as sheriff, but I also know I'll leave a lot of stress at the front door.”
The sheriff said his employees presented him with a retirement gift at a dinner earlier this week. Yesterday he was honored again as community members came to say good-bye.
Longtime friend Pete Hayes said he's known the sheriff for more than 40 years.
“We lived in the same neighborhood, and our kids went to school together,” he said. “He is a dynamic sheriff with new ideas that improved the department each and every year.”
Blissfield Police Officer Sam Pooley said he stopped by because the sheriff made a big difference when he was just out of the Army and thinking about entering law enforcement.
“I did an internship in 1975 from Siena Heights coordinated by the sheriff,” he said. “He has made a lot of difference. He has been instrumental for a lot of young men in joining a field like no other.”
Sheriff Germond, who joined the department when he was 21, said he would like to remain in law enforcement as a consultant. Active throughout his career in national and state sheriff's associations, Sheriff Germond said he hopes to stay on to help future sheriffs through the changes and advancements in law enforcement.
Michigan Sheriff's Association Executive Director Terrance Jungel said Sheriff Germond was an example of a top-notch leader.
A former sheriff himself, Mr. Jungel said from his Lansing office yesterday that Sheriff Germond is likely one of the longest serving sheriffs in the country. With that sort of history and background, Sheriff Germond will continue to be someone emulated.
“It's unfortunate someone leaves before they are ready, but there is no question that he can leave with his head held high,” he said. “He's left the profession better, both morally and ethically, than when he found it.”