Mike Burns spent nearly four decades on the Macon police force.
Hired by the police department in 1974, the now 61-year-old worked his way up to chief. Along the way, he made a lot of friends and foes, and he earned a great deal of respect from the men and women he led.
He missed out on a lot, too.
The 39 years I was here, I was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Burns said Tuesday at Macon City Hall during his retirement ceremony. I had to miss holidays, birthdays and any other thing normal families do.
But that was my job, he said, standing at a podium in front of the mayors office before a lobby filled with officers, politicians, family members and other public safety officials from across Middle Georgia. Like all in law enforcement, (my family) knew there was a chance I may not come back home after leaving for work.
Burns, who was appointed chief by former Mayor C. Jack Ellis in 2005, retired in May.
Macon Mayor Robert Reichert shared with the well-wishers a personal email that Burns sent to him shortly after he was elected six years ago.
Burns had worked in the department 33 years at that point, and he told Reichert that staying on the force wouldnt benefit his pension. He also told the new mayor he had another job offer with commensurate pay in a much smaller town north of Atlanta.
Id be stupid not to take it, Burns wrote in the email.
He ended the note saying call me stupid. Ill stay as long as you need me, Reichert recalled before presenting Burns with a clock mounted on a plaque.
Interim Police Chief Mike Carswell on Tuesday credited Burns with improving working conditions in the department.
Chief Burns led us with honor, courage and integrity, he said. We know his influence on law enforcement will be felt in Middle Georgia for years to come. He made us so much better and more effective.
To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.