After 38 years in law enforcement, Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey walked out of headquarters and into retirement on Thursday.
Mulvey, who served as the county’s top cop since 2007, was given a grand send off on his final day on the job as staffers lined the hallways to say their final goodbyes and top brass stood at attention outside the Mineola building to give him a last salute.
"I'm overwhelmed," Mulvey said just before his noon departure.
"I'm proud of my tenure here as commissioner," he added, "being with the police department for 38 years and the great team we've had."
Mulvey served as the county's 12th commissioner. He spent 11 years in uniform serving in several units, from narcotics and auto theft to hostage negotiation. Before getting the top spot he was an assistant to the police commissioner representing the department in matters that came before the county legislator. He also served as the department's liaison to the county executive.
As commissioner he presided over the department during a time of fiscal belt tightening.
"We've done some amazing things in very difficult economic times," Mulvey said. "We are recognized as the safest community of a half million or more in the United States of America."
The outgoing commissioner said that in the first quarter of 2011 major crime is down in the county by 17.5 percent over the same period a year ago despite having staffing levels that are at mid 1960s levels.
Mulvey also said he was pleased with the work the department did in less affluent parts of the county such as Uniondale and Roosevelt.
"We've deployed shot spotter technology," he said. "I'm proud to say that since Christmas Eve we've only had one gunshot fired in that community."
Prior to that in the same period there had been 83 shots fired in the area, according to Mulvey.
With Mulvey leaving, the acting police commissioner will be Thomas Krumpter, 44, of East Northport. A 19-year veteran of the force, Krumpter spent about half his career on patrol before working the last decade with the commissioner's staff.
Losing Mulvey is going to be difficult, according to Krumpter.
"He's gotten us through some very difficult times and despite fiscal restraints, he's managed to advance the department and keep it among the best in the country," Krumpter said.
Going forward, Krumpter said the department is "just going to have to step up and provide the services that the county residents have come to expect."
He may have big shoes to fill as evidenced by the reception Mulvey received as he made his final exit.
The commissioner passed through the ranks of department heads, mounted officers stood at attention on their horses and two police helicopters flew overhead.
The assembled ranks gave Mulvey one final salute and the now ex-commissioner responded with a smile and a wave, before stepping into an SUV and getting an escort back into civilian life.