Newton police captain retires after 29-year career

Staff Writer

special to the o-n-e
NEWTON — The city of Newton congratulates Capt. Michael Sullivan, a 29-year veteran of the Newton Police Department, on his retirement from the police force.
Sullivan joined the Newton Police Department as an officer in March 1987. He rose through the ranks over the course of three decades and was ultimately promoted to captain in October 2011. His last day at the Newton Police Department was Dec. 16.
Sullivan said he is proud to have been able to spend enough time at the Newton Police Department to have had an impact on members of the community and his colleagues.
“When I got out of the Marine Corps, I was told that you need to stick around in a position long enough to be one of the leaders who calls the shots,” Sullivan said. “I’m lucky to have been around long enough to have had an effect here in Newton, and I hope it’s been a good one.”
If the crowd of more than 150 people at his retirement celebration at Newton City Hall on Dec. 16 is any indication, Sullivan certainly has had a good effect on the city of Newton.

As Sullivan reflected on his time at the Newton Police Department, he offered one piece of advice to new officers: Get involved in the neighborhoods where you work.

“Be involved in the community,” Sullivan said. “If you’re invested in the area, then it feeds back to you, and it can also protect you. If you get invested, you get more out of your career and it becomes more than a paycheck.”

Sullivan has spent his career practicing what he preaches. He coached football and baseball at Newton-Conover High School and fondly remembered leading the Red Devils to their first state football championship. Several of the players he coached have gone on to study criminal justice and become law enforcement officers.

Sullivan served as a DARE program teacher, field training officer, and basic law enforcement instructor. During his time as a supervisor at the Newton Police Department, he led the patrol, narcotics, and investigations divisions.

Representatives from law enforcement agencies across Catawba County were in attendance at Sullivan’s retirement celebration. Officers from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office and Hickory Police Department, as well as representatives from Newton-Conover City Schools, made special presentations to Sullivan.

Newton Police Chief Don Brown returned Sullivan’s badge and duty weapon to him. Sullivan immediately thrust the pistol back into his signature shoulder holster with a smile.

“From the first day I met Mike, it was a friendship,” Brown said. “It’s a friendship that’s lasted for 30 years. Mike was that brother I never had. At the end of the day, you should look at the impact you have on others. I can tell you?professionally and personally?Mike Sullivan made an impact on a lot of people.”

Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman and City Manager Todd Clark also offered congratulatory remarks at the celebration.

“You’ve meant a lot to many people here in Newton and beyond, and I commend you for your achievements,” Stedman said.

“Mike is a first-class individual,” Clark said. “He is a veteran of our military, so first and foremost, I’d like to thank him for that. For his many years of service to the city of Newton, he has my admiration and thanks. Mike, your dedication, your loyalty, and your service to the people of this community are priceless.”

A Wisconsin native, Sullivan met his wife, Marguerite, while he was in the Marine Corps in San Diego. The two married and moved Newton, her hometown. They have two daughters, Amy and Katie.

Sullivan said he has few firm plans for the beginning of his retirement. He said he hopes to do some hunting and fishing while he figures out what to do during the next chapter of his life.

“I’ve got a list of things that I’ve always wanted to do, and I just haven’t been able to get to them,” Sullivan said.

The city of Newton thanks Capt. Sullivan for a career of dedicated service and wishes him many happy years of retirement.