QUINCY, Ill. — On a shelf just above Sgt. John Summers’ shoulder was a clock. It counted down to the end of his shift July 7, when he wrapped up a nearly 40-year career with the Quincy Police Department.
The clock has been passed along among members of the department’s investigations unit. When he left it was to wind up on the desk of the next person planning to retire.
Summers, 65, retired after 39 years, seven months and 10 days of service. He is the department’s longest-serving active officer. He knows he will miss colleagues and friends he has made over the years.
In the investigations unit, Summers supervises detectives, a role he has held for 21 years.
“I spent time in the early to mid-’80s as a detective, and then got promoted and went back to patrol,” he said, before moving to his current role.
In the early 1980s, Summers was a member of Operation Octopus, which was a predecessor to the West Central Illinois Task Force.
As the department was conducting an undercover drug operation, it was tracking an individual who previously worked for the Adams County Sheriff’s Department. However, it turned out the person was undercover as well, and the Quincy Police Department wasn’t aware.
“So we got with the state, and the state, county and city put together a task force, and we ran for six-and-a-half months,” Summers said. “After that, they realized it worked out well, so they formed the West Central Illinois Task Force out of that.”
Some cases have remained with him during his career.
Though he joined the department seven years after the 1970 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Patty Ann Smith, he spent considerable time over the years investigating the case.
Smith disappeared near 10th and Hampshire on July 26, 1970. Her remains were found about 10 months later.
Summers’ partner at the time, Detective Larry Carley, suggested Summers interview a man as part of the investigation, believing he was involved with the case. After locating the man in Iowa, Summers said police interviewed him, but he denied involvement and submitted to a polygraph test, which he passed.
“About once a year or so, we would look into this case, and it’s kind of ironic, because I was never involved in it initially, but I think back to it a lot,” Summers said. “I always felt for her family, because, to this day, they still miss her.”
From joining the department in 1977, he believes the department has continued to evolve.
“Hearing some of the older guys back then tell me the stories, I think Chief (Charles) Gruber really began the professionalization of the Quincy Police Department,” Summers said. “The chiefs since then have done that.”
Summers has no immediate retirement plans, though he knows he will be able to get his deer stands up and go hunting on weekdays.
“It’ll be kind of weird,” Summers said. “When you’re on vacation a week or two, you always think you have to go back a certain day, and now I’m not going to have to think about that. That might be good.”
Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://bit.ly/2sPGXQr
Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://www.whig.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by The Quincy Herald-Whig.