Area law enforcement leaders, family and friends assembled at the home of Chief Russell J. Bono early Thursday morning to escort him to the police station for his last day as an officer of the law.
The 42-year veteran of the force retires today along with his longtime friend and colleague, Deputy Chief Capt. Willie Richet. Capt. Richet, however, will continue on as interim police chief until a permanent replacement can be found. Both men were treated to full escorts to the station today.
Chief Bono was visibly moved by the showing (as were many of the officers in attendance), more than once wiping a tear from his eye as he struggled to keep his composure.
"I'm so honored and privileged to have worked with you all," Chief Bono told crowd gathered in the parking lot of Municipal Hall. "It's just unbelievable."
"I’m going to miss the people in the department, that’s for sure," Chief Bono told the Herald. "I wish the department well. It’s a great police department, one that has reached great heights. It deserves respect from the community. It is now recognized as a professional department, and the officers here — the men and women — deserve the credit."
Now, Chief Bono said, it's time for him to spend time with his family and grandchildren and especially his wife Linda.
"She's been there with me through the whole thing, through the whole 42 years," he said. "It's time for the both of us to enjoy each other and our kids and our grandkids; so I look forward to that."
Though he joked he has at least one more plan for retirement.
"Maybe a little golf," he laughed. "A lot of golf."