Published February 07. 2014 4:00AM Updated February 08. 2014 12:19AM
Norwich - Sgt. James Tetreault was at a critical juncture in his career at the city police department.
After turning 42 last year, he started to think about what to do next. Should he continue to work at the police department? Or was it time to start something new?
It wasn't an easy decision, but Tetreault decided it was time for a change. After 20 years, Tetreault retired from the force, working his last day on Thursday.
"I'm at an age where I can start an entire new career and not just retire and work for the sake of working," he said.
Tetreault's retirement, however, will be short-lived because he starts his new job today with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Unit. He will be protecting the roadway from unsafe drivers and ensuring that the tractor-trailer units operating on the roads are safe.
"It's a secure job and the hours are definitely more consistent," he said. "It interests me as well. When I was on patrol, I did a lot of motor vehicle enforcement, so it was an easy transition."
Tetreault started with the Norwich Police Department shortly after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor's degree in political science. He wanted to be a lawyer, but after taking several classes in school and talking to various people, he opted for a career in law enforcement.
"This was my first full-time job ever," he said. "I spent almost half of my life here. I'm going to miss all my friends. I met a lot of great guys here."
He started out in the Patrol Division, then moved to the Detective Division, where he became the handler to the department's first narcotics detecting K-9, Tony. Tony retired two years ago and is now the family pet.
He also served as the midnight shift commander and then moved to his current position as supervisor of the Detective Division.
Tetreault's demeanor is low-key. When the married father of four children gave his notice two weeks ago, he didn't make any big announcements and really didn't tell anyone.
"If they asked if I was retiring, I would confirm it," he said. "I didn't want to bring attention to myself."
He carries that same attitude when it comes to talking about some of the major cases he has worked on, and there have been quite a few.
He was one of the investigators in the brutal robbery and beating death of an elderly couple, John and Josephine Fountain, in 2003. Welbon Bryan was sentenced to 110 years in prison in that case.
While working in the narcotics units, he and his K-9 partner Tony helped remove more than 7 kilograms of cocaine and crack cocaine, several thousand bags of heroin, marijuana and ecstasy and more than $250,000 in cash along with a dozen vehicles that were seized.
In one narcotics bust alone, with the help of his canine, he found $66,000 in cash along with three guns in a hidden compartment of a car.
He's also participated in numerous wiretaps, including one that led to a massive drug raid in March that resulted in more than 100 arrests. Several state and federal law enforcement agencies were also involved in the raid.
Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro said Tetreault had an exemplary career with the department, saying he personifies what it means to be a Norwich police officer.
"He's been an outstanding asset to us throughout his entire career," Fusaro said. "This job can be crazy with all the call outs at all hours in the day, and not only did he manage to do his job in a professional manner, but he managed to be a solid family man and not let this job have a strain on his family life. His work didn't suffer and neither did his family, and I congratulate him on that."
Capt. Patrick Daley, who was hired on the same day in September 1993 as Tetreault, said Tetreault is not only smart and dedicated, but also a "good detective and street cop."
"He just doesn't miss a beat," Daley said. "He has a wealth of knowledge that is going to be hard to replace. I'm going to miss him as a friend and co-worker."