TROY, Mich. – At 5 p.m. Thursday, Gary Mayer ended his last shift as Troy's police chief after nearly 40 years on the force.
Usually people retire on Friday afternoons, but Mayer was fine with his final day.
He started out as a police officer in Grosse Pointe Farms and worked there for a year before taking a job in Troy, which was a different town back then.
"We had a rope in the trunk of the car, so if anybody's horse got away in the north end of town we could corral the horse," Mayer said.
He moved his way up the ladder at the Troy Police Department.
"I worked on drug patrol unit, plainclothes," Mayer said."I lucked out and was able to work in the auto theft squad for a few years. That was a lot of fun, we ran two sting operations."
He left the city to work on a county wide drug task force but came back in 1989 as a lieutenant. Though he only ever thought he'd make sergeant, 10 years later he became chief.
By then, Troy had grown into a major Michigan city. By 2009 it had 147 police officers and when the downturn hit, the first thing he had to do as chief was deal with a massive budget shortfall.
"That was really difficult on us," Mayer said. "We had a lot of really good people here and we had to downsize. That hurt. We were able to maintain our quality of service but it was very stressful."
Using buyouts, he had to let his friends go. Still, the job did have its good memories.
"I've been reminiscing about delivering a baby girl back in 1981," Mayer said. "That was a good day. You don't get to do that very often in police work."
As he rode off into the sunset, Mayer offered his successor some simple advice.
"Just remember the people that got you here," Mayer said. "We've got a lot of really good people."
Mayer said he's planning to stay in Troy with his wife, his children and grandchildren to spend more time with them. He also teaches ethics at the police academy in Macomb.