by Lisa Tome
How do you celebrate 40 years in a job that you love?
If you're Maryland's longest serving police chief Darrell Hamilton, you order a new 40 year pin and do nothing else to mark the milestone.
On March 7, Hamilton hit the four decades mark. He became chief of North East police in 1977.
It was a less than glamorous position.
Hamilton shared a gun with officer Walter Heverin. He also worked out of the old lock-up, a tiny building near the current North East Police building. He bought his uniform, brown pants, at Cramer's Five and Dime Department store.
The police cruisers weren't in the best condition either.
"At the beginning of every shift we put in a quart of oil, a quart of transmission fluid, and a quart of power steering fluid in them. We had a Ford Torino and a big Plymouth (as patrol cars)," said Hamilton.
Now, things are different. There's more officers, new patrol cars, and a department which is in the process of getting some upgrades.
"I ordered a 40 year pin for my uniform and one for my dress jacket," said Hamilton.
There's no big secret to his longevity.
"I look forward to getting up and coming to work. It's the quality of people that I work with and work for," said Hamilton.
He likes the day to day.
"Today is just like the first day I started here. No one day is the same. We have an outstanding town administration and quality police officers working here," said Hamilton. His work extends beyond the borders of the town. He serves on the Senior and Lawmen Together (SALT) council. He is also on the Board of Directors of Cecil's Boys and Girls Clubs.
He's on the Safe Schools Steering Committee, and plays Santa at Christmas. He is active with Neighborhood Youth Panel. He has coached Special Olympics. He also gets plenty of support at home. Hamilton and his wife, Connie, have been married since 1975.
"My wife is an incredible woman who allows me to commit the time necessary that I feel is necessary to serve the town," he said. Chief Hamilton also gets support from his children and grandchildren.
Hamilton said although he hit the 40 year mark with no celebration, he speculates that the town will celebrate the milestone during the annual town party in December. He said he won't feel slighted if that doesn't happen.