BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A ceremony was held Jan. 29 honoring Bridgewater Police Captain Michael Maxwell, and Lt. Michael Packwood, Lt. William Kelly and Lt. Robert Stasiulaitis as they retired from the department.
A large audience gathered for the occasion, including family and friends, elected officials, fellow officers and retired officers. The four officers retiring together began their careers together in Bridgewater in August1994.
“Today we say goodbye and good luck to four great supervisors,” said Acting Chief Paul Payne. “They take with them over 100 years of combined law enforcement experience. Each man retiring has over 25 years of dedicated and loyal experience to this agency, profession and community.”
Mayor Matthew Moench congratulated the officers.
“I cannot thank you enough for your lifetime of service protecting all of our families,” he said. “You put yourself on the line every day. You help people when they’re most in need of assistance and you protect all of us. This is an unbelievable police department and it’s unbelievable because of the work that all of you put into it.”
Payne presented each officer with a plaque and described their many accomplishments.
“Being a police officer is not a job or a career, but a way of life,” he said. “You do not just relax when you leave work even though you try. You are always on duty. But now your time has come to enjoy retirement.”
Maxwell, who was unable to attend the ceremony, was one of three officers selected to join the Community Policing Unit in March 2001. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant, assigned to patrol in August 2009, support services in February 2013 and the rank of lieutenant, remaining in charge of support services, in February 2015.
In September 2015, Maxwell became the administrative lieutenant in charge of criminal investigation, traffic safety and youth services, and was again promoted to the rank of captain overseeing the administrative division in November 2018. Captain Maxwell received the Exceptional Service Award on two different occasions during his career, and also received the Life Saving Award.
After beginning his career in patrol, Packwood joined the criminal investigations bureau as a detective in December 2003, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in December 2012. He served as detective sergeant in the criminal investigations bureau, overseeing the daily operations of the bureau and youth services.
In April 2017, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and assigned back to patrol as a watch commander and eventually to support services. Payne acknowledged Packwood’s essential role in the department’s re-accreditation through the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police Association.
During his career, Packwood received many awards, including the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Honorable Service Medal, Bridgewater Police Department Honorable Service Medal, Bridgewater Police Department Training Officer Award, Somerset Medical Center Excellence in Emergency Care and Bridgewater Police Department Letter of Commendation.
Kelly served the community daily in patrol for 20 years until February 2014 when he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2017 and assigned as a watch commander for three squads.
Kelly served two terms as vice president of the Police Benevolent Association.
Payne acknowledged Kelly for his ability to maintain great working relationships with the union and the agency, and for his attitude of respect for the men and women of the agency, one of his “standout traits,” Payne said.
Stasiulaitis began his career in patrol and was assigned to the criminal investigation bureau in August 2000, returning to patrol in 2001.
“The reason he returned to patrol is that he had one dangerous encounter,” Payne said. “Somehow that shredder upstairs got ahold of his tie.”
In January 2007, Stasiulaitis joined the traffic safety bureau and the Somerset County Collision Analysis Reconstruction Team, responsible for investigating major and fatal traffic accidents in the township and county. Stasiulaitis was promoted to the rank of sergeant and assigned to patrol in January 2013, and he was reassigned to the traffic safety bureau as the sergeant in charge in 2015.
He was promoted to his current rank in November 2018. During his career, Stasiulaitis was an instructor at the Somerset County Police Academy, conducting both recruit training and in-service training.
As they accepted their plaques, the three officers in attendance shared parting words of gratitude to the department, and expressed the important role that their families played in supporting them during their careers.
This was echoed by Payne.
“I would like to personally thank the family members that stuck by these officers during their careers,” Payne. said “There is a certain amount of stress that you take on when we work. Thank you for your service.”
A special walk out ceremony, a Bridgewater Police Department tradition, followed the presentations. Through squad car radio announcements, each officer requested to be taken out of service, and was wished well in his retirement.
Their uniformed colleagues lined up in rows to offer a final tribute as each retiring officer walked through to salute the chief, officially concluding their service.