EATON — Police Officer Dale Haney retired on Jan. 9 after 47 years with the City of Eaton. His service was celebrated both during a city council meeting, and at a retirement party in his honor on Friday, Jan. 27.
Haney started working with the Eaton Police Division in 1970 as a dispatcher. In 1974 he transitioned into a full-time police officer.
He retired in 2002 with 30-plus years under his belt, but his first retirement did not last long.
He went back to the police force later in 2002 in a part-time capacity. Haney started working full-time again in 2006.
During his career he was named Officer of the Year in 1984 and Employee of the Year in 2015.
His retirement celebration actually started at the Eaton City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Mayor David Kirsch read a proclamation issuing “a most sincere ‘Thank You’ to Dale Haney.” Police Chief Chad DePew also spoke in appreciation of Haney.
Chief DePew had many stories and kind words to share about Haney. He started with recognizing that “nearly everybody knows Dave” because he has been a “staple of the city of Eaton for a long time.” He continued, thanking Haney for being “one of our most active officers” even after all his years of service. DePew later said the younger police officers could learn a lot from Haney.
DePew recalled how unique Haney was when he recalled his favorite story.
“A man like him is hard to find,” DePew said. “Not only has he been extremely consistent, but he’s been incredibly dependable. He is usually a man of few words, but there are a few stories of Dale, and my favorite is when he started here in 1970 as a dispatcher. When, at the time, he was responsible for answering the calls for service. For a fire call, we would normally take the call and take down the information — but he would jump in the fire truck and drive down to the scene.”
It was DePew whom Haney went to with his decision to retire. DePew recalled how mixed his reaction was.
“When he told me a few weeks ago that he wanted to retire, it was kind of a bittersweet moment,” DePew said. “We will miss having Dale around, but if anybody deserves some time to himself and some time to retire and enjoy his life, he’s worked hard for a long time.”
DePew recognized Haney was such a dedicated worker that he developed many nicknames over the years. He often worked during the midnight shift and was always an inspiration to his fellow workers.
DePew added, “When I started here, everyone called Dale ‘the Ninja.’ It didn’t take me long to realize why. We all saw Dale when he was on duty, but it wasn’t unusual to see him when he was off duty. He would show up on your call.”
He added, Haney would “pop up” when his back was turned.
Haney did not just clock out of the job — to him he was always ready to serve. “He was always on duty and always ready to help us out when needed,” DePew said.
“It’s been a good ride,” Haney said after being recognized. “I’ve enjoyed working for the city, I really have. It’s been a good place to have a career.”
Kirsch’s proclamation recognized that Haney has “generously given his time, considerable talent and abilities, not only serving in his regular duties, but as a living embodiment of the Police Division’s call-to-arms.”
During his retirement party on Jan. 27, family and friends of Haney were invited to celebrate his life’s work. Before the celebration could begin, many community members wanted to acknowledge what Haney meant to them.
DePew started by stating simply, “We appreciate Dale’s service and we’ll miss having him around.”
City councilman Joe Renner, who worked with Haney for many years, commented, “[I] always enjoyed working with him, he’s a good backup to have. I was a neighbor with him for many years, and I wish you well, Dale.”
After many other community members spoke, Kirsch finished by saying, “Dale, from our hearts to yours, we thank you for what you’ve done to this community. For how you’ve represented us, both with the uniform on and the uniform off. So, our accolades and our thank yous to you.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH