BRATTLEBORO — After more than two decades with the Brattleboro Police Department, Chief Michael "Gunny" Fitzgerald announced Friday he is retiring effective Jan. 1, 2021.
"Serving as police chief under your leadership has been one of the great honors of my professional life and as I tender this resignation," wrote Fitzgerald in a letter dated Sept. 8 to Town Manager Peter Elwell, "I also tender my thanks. During my 21 years of service as a police officer for Brattleboro, I have never been better resourced or more fully supported by any town manager. From equipment, to training, to technology, to policy, you have stood by the department and made much of what we have accomplished possible."
Fitzgerald also thanked his fellow officers and the citizens of Brattleboro for their support.
"Working together in partnership on community-based policing initiatives we forged the way forward through collaboration to address not only crime but many quality of life issues as well," he wrote. "None of this would have been possible without your support and leadership."
And while public safety is a shared responsibility, wrote Fitzgerald, "law enforcement will always carry the larger burden. It is impossible for me to quantify the many acts of bravery, kindness and concern that our officers perform each day but I am deeply grateful for their acts and for the privilege of working beside them for the past 21 years."
In a news release announcing Fitzgerald's retirement, Elwell wrote that Fitzgerald's leadership will be missed far beyond the police department.
"He has provided steady, progressive leadership inside the department," stated Elwell, "but he also has made a positive impact as a teammate to other town employees and as a community leader involved in a wide variety of projects that extend beyond traditional police work into matters of equity and community well being."
Before coming to the Brattleboro Police Department as an entry level police officer, Fitzgerald spent 20 years in the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, from which he earned his nickname, Gunny. He was promoted to lieutenant in the local department in 2005 and captain in 2008. He was appointed chief in 2014.
"His tenure as chief has been noteworthy for his commitment to building relationships between the police department and the community, consistent with the department's mission statement that differentiates between 'people who need our help, people who have made a bad decision, and people who are intentionally causing harm to others,'" wrote Elwell.
Fitzgerald told the Reformer his only real plan for retirement is to spend more time with his family.
Bob Audette can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.