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Godschalk retires

June 23, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- After more than 37 years in service to the county, including the past two years as a desk officer at the Brandon substation, Deputy Gary Godschalk retires this week.

Godschalk, 56, originally planned to retire in the fall, but moved his plans up after the township board recently voted to eliminate his position as they make budget cuts. Still, residents can expect to see Godschalk around, as he intends to volunteer at the substation a few days per week, helping with the filing and some of the cases.

"I love it here and want to enjoy it, but be on my own schedule," said Godschalk, who has served as a deputy I at the Brandon substation since April 2008, taking accident and police reports at the station, answering the phone, and responding on calls whenever the need arose. Prior to Brandon, he held the same position in Commerce Township, where he had been since 2000.

Godschalk began his career in 1973 as an employee of the Oakland County Safety Division. He was a midnight watchman at the Oakland County Courthouse and graduated from the police academy in 1978, after which he patrolled county parks, the Oakland County Airport, and served as a police officer at the county complex.

He remembers the time they were tipped off about a plane at the airport that was stocked with marijuana. He and other officers did surveillance on the plane, but no one ever showed up to claim it. Godschalk also worked at the sites of many plane crashes and saw "a lot of terrible things."

He enjoyed patrolling the county parks, which also included snowmobile patrol at Addison Oaks. In 1989, the safety division merged with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, after which time he worked in the corrections division at the Oakland County Jail for 10 years before going to Commerce Township as their desk officer.

During his long career, Godschalk has seen many changes, particularly in court procedures and equipment for deputies. He notes that when he started, police officers had three tools— mace, handcuffs and a gun. Now, he says, they also have tasers, portable radios, and computers.

"Before, we only had a radio in the car, and it took time to warm up," he recalls. "We always carried dimes in our pockets for pay phones back then as back-up communication. You can do so much more with computers now for investigations, especially with computers in the patrol cars."

These extra tools are especially needed, as Godschalk said there seems to also be more crime now, and less respect from young people than there used to be.

"Kids are growing up too fast and not enjoying childhood," he said.

"It's always been a learning experience. There are some you could help and some you could save, and some you could not."

Overall, it has been a joyful experience, said Godschalk, who plans to use his retirement to spend more time at his cabin up north, as well as relaxing on the porch at his home in Groveland Township.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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