Sunset Hills police officer retiring after serving 43 years

Longest-serving employee in Sunset Hills recognized at recent retirement celebration

Sunset Hills officials, including Police Chief William LaGrand, left, congratulate Lt. Mike Swofford, who is retiring June 1 after 43 years of service, at the May 10 Board of Aldermen meeting. The chief also recognized Swofford's wife, Becky, for her unofficial contributions to the city and the Police Department. Also pictured in background, from left, are: Ward 4 Alderman Thompson Price, Mayor Pat Fribis, Ward 2 Alderman Steve Bersche, Recording Secretary Carol Lay and City Attorney Robert E. Jones.

Sunset Hills officials, including Police Chief William LaGrand, left, congratulate Lt. Mike Swofford, who is retiring June 1 after 43 years of service, at the May 10 Board of Aldermen meeting. The chief also recognized Swofford’s wife, Becky, for her unofficial contributions to the city and the Police Department. Also pictured in background, from left, are: Ward 4 Alderman Thompson Price, Mayor Pat Fribis, Ward 2 Alderman Steve Bersche, Recording Secretary Carol Lay and City Attorney Robert E. Jones.

By Gloria Lloyd

The longest-serving employee in Sunset Hills, Lt. Mike Swofford, is retiring June 1 after 43 years of service.

At the May 10 Board of Aldermen meeting, Police Department Chief William LaGrand presented Swofford with a plaque for his years of service and said it would be hard to quantify the impact Swofford has had on the city over the decades.

“It’s really difficult to take a 43-year career and sum it up in two or three minutes,” LaGrand said. “But from the time that I came here, Mike was always there to lend guidance, support, good counsel. He was always dependable and you knew that when Mike made a suggestion, it was well thought out and would be good for the city.

“I just cannot overestimate the importance of that.”

Swofford was originally hired as an officer in 1973 and was promoted to sergeant in 1975 and lieutenant in 1985. In 1987, he graduated from the FBI National Academy, which LaGrand said is a prestigious “top-level” honor, “and Mike represented himself and the city very well.”

LaGrand and Swofford went to college together at Benedictine College in Kansas, but Swofford beat LaGrand to graduating.

“You think about it — 43 years. That’s an awful long time, and Mike has contributed a lot to the city here,” said LaGrand, who came to the city as police chief in 1991.

The chief also asked Swofford’s wife, Becky, to come forward to be recognized for her unofficial contributions to the city and the Police Department.

“Given the nature of police work, it’s almost impossible to have a career as long and distinguished as Mike’s had without the support of his wife. The sacrifices that his family have made are enormous,” LaGrand said. “I want to thank you for that, Becky, very much.”

As the two police officials posed for pictures taken by the person who now becomes the longest-serving city employee, Lt. Greg Zveitel, LaGrand said, “Michael, thanks for everything, all the time.”

Accepting the plaque, Swofford told the Board of Aldermen, “It’s been a pleasure working for the city all these years. Of course, it’s been a few ups and downs along the way, but overall it’s been a very good place to work, a very fine community and a good group of people to work with over the years.”

The city held a retirement celebration for Swofford May 11 at the Community Center.

Mayor Pat Fribis also thanked both the Swoffords for their “service and dedication” to the city.