After 29 years with the New Milford Police Department, Capt. Michael Mrazik has announced he will retire on June 25.

It is a decision he said he made partially due to concerns about changes expected to occur with the department pension plan that could affect future medical compensation.

"So it's time to go,'' said the 56-year-old Capt. Mrazik, who joined the force back in 1981 after spending four years as a full-time dispatcher and part-time police officer in Wolcott.

Prior to that, he worked in retail management for the S.S. Kresge Co. in Pennyslvania.

Capt. Mrazik is the department's sole captain, a non-union post to which he was promoted eight years ago. His base salary is about $74,000.

Only the department chief, deputy chief, captain and lieutenant posts are not included in the union. But Capt. Mrazik's pension, and related medical coverage, is the same as the one in effect for the union.

The police union and the town are currently in arbitration over a new three-year contract, and medical contributions are one of the issues in contention.

The department has a separate pension contract that does not expire until June 2011. An arbitration decision is expected in June.

Neither union leaders nor town officials can speak about specific contract details while the matter is in arbitration, but medical costs have been cited previously by both sides as a concern in these economic times. Under the current contract, retired officers contribute 10 percent toward their medical costs.

"It's a shame to see someone with his experience leave the agency,'' said Police Sgt. Larry Ash, a union vice president. "He's done good work here and will truly be missed.''

Capt. Mrazik said he, too, will miss the men and women with whom he has worked. He called them a "dedicated'' group of law enforcement professionals who are concerned about the community's welfare.

"It's a hard job to do and do it well,'' said Capt. Mrazik, who said he will most likely get another job but is not yet certain about any future employment.

He said his personal interest in becoming a police officer grew from interactions he had with the Camp Hill, Pa., Police Department when he was working as an assistant manager at the Kresge store in the area about a half-hour away from Gettysburg.

"I liked to look for shoplifters and stop them,'' Capt. Mrazik said.

He said he was always so impressed with the professional demeanor of that department's officers whenever he called them to come and make such an arrest.

"I credit them with me getting into this business,'' Capt. Mrazik said.

In thinking back over the years, Capt. Mrazik said, he has shared the ups and downs intrinsic to police work but has "certainly enjoyed the townspeople and all the members of the department.''

"I've been very proud to serve the community,'' said Capt. Mrazik who also called New Milford home for almost 20 years before moving a year ago to his hometown in Wolcott.

He and his wife, Kathleen, have four adult sons: twins Michael and Brian, 23, Daniel, 26 and David, 29.

On most weekdays, Capt. Mrazik is a regular at the Citgo station Dunkin' Donuts, where he buys two cups of coffee -- three when his wife works in religious education services for St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church. It is a rare day when he is not doing a meet-and-greet in line.

"He's probably about the most steady person you'll ever meet," said Deputy Chief Norbert Lillis. "He's the same everywhere he goes. He's a very straightforward and honest guy.''

And Capt. Mrazik is "blunt," a quality Deputy Chief Lillis admires.

"I like to know the way it is, and he administrates exactly that way,'' Deputy Chief Lillis said. "He is a well-schooled, well-disciplined policeman who is well thought of by his peers. We're going to miss him tremendously.''

Police Chief Colin McCormack is away on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

"I hope I made a little impact and made the town a little better,'' Capt. Mrazik concluded.

Contact Nanci Hutson

at nhutson@newstimes.com

or at 860-354-2274.