Ted Stockmon has retired from the North Haven Police Department to become a school resource officer, leaving behind a job that never got old, but not the community he has known and served for decades.
Stockmon said he joined the department on April 22, 1986, spurred by a friend who was interested in the idea.
He had never considered getting into law enforcement, but after working for eight-plus years at Stop & Shop, the concept was appealing.
“Being a young guy in my 20s, I wanted something exciting, and I thought I’d give it a shot — not even expecting success, but just giving it my best shot,” said Stockmon.
He applied to six departments and was offered a job in his hometown, North Haven.
For the next 32 years, Stockmon served the town as a street-level officer, largely working on patrol.
He provided traffic enforcement, worked on street crime, helped share the mission of the department through public relations work and responded to people in times of stress, anger and need.
Stepping into moments of crisis to take control and help people was always interesting, Stockmon said.
He sought to move with empathy and compassion, getting people to calm down, focus and bring things into perspective. It was rewarding work, he said.
“Making people’s bad day, if not worst day, better really gave a lot of meaning for me,” said Stockmon. “I’m from town here, four generations — this is my front yard and my back yard. I really never got sick of it — I only retired because you’ve got to retire at some point.”
He had to learn to deal with humanity; he was naive when he started, with nice parents, and had to attune himself to the possibility folks were lying to him. And there were some sleepless nights over the years, as he dealt with the emotional toll of some of what he saw. The May 2 explosion on Quinnipiac Avenue, he said, was something he never expected to deal with.
But, working in North Haven, he was spared some of the worst of the job. And it was a pleasure to be out and about, particularly in his home town, learning and working year after year in a multifaceted, changing role.
Some officers choose to move on from patrol work at some point and take an office job. Stockmon said he never did.
“It’d be a long day for me to sit and have to look at the same four walls. I did that in my retail job for eight and a half years,” said Stockmon. “I loved it. I don’t care if it was the dead of winter — my window was never closed on my cruiser. I had to have it open, at least an inch or two, to get fresh air and, of course, hear anybody trying to get my attention.”
“The nature of the job is it never got old for me,” said Stockmon. “How many people can say they worked the same job for 30-plus years and never got bored?”
But the opportunity to become a school resource officer, made available at the June 25 town meeting, seemed like the right next step.
The chance allows him the chance to work with children, building a rapport with young people and watching over the schools. His pension reached its maximum years ago. And in this new role, he can work a regular schedule, allowing him to be home on weekends and spend more time with his family.
But the shift has not really sunk in yet, Stockmon said. His patrol uniforms are all still in the closet, “staring at me.” He can’t quite bring himself to get rid of them.
“It’s been most of my life — 32 years on the job here. It’s a long time to be in the same job; a long time to be doing the same thing,” said Stockmon. “Change doesn’t come easy to me, but, like I said, I could not pass up on the school resource officer opportunity. It was just too good to pass up, as much as I loved patrol.”
But with this new job, he doesn’t have to leave the department behind. He’ll be able to wear the same badge and serve in the town he’s worked to safeguard for years.
“It means the world to me that I can still say I’m a member of this department, if not as a full-timer, a part-time position is fine with me. I’m happy to still be with the department that I’m proud to be a part of,” said Stockmon. “I was unemployed for one day. I retired on Monday and I was sworn-in on Tuesday — so it’s a beautiful thing.”