SWAMPSCOTT — On Capt. John Alex's last day with the Swampscott Police Department after 41 years, the most senior member of the force was surprised by a motorcade in his honor.
The parade of vehicles was led by the town's Big Blue fire truck, and included cruisers driven by his fellow officers and those from area departments, state police units and cars full of well-wishers.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the department held a surprise and noisy motorized tribute to Alex at the station at 531 Humphrey St., after staging at the rear of Blocksidge Field a short distance away. This was Alex's last possible day to work as he turns the mandatory retirement age of 65 on Thursday, according to detective Ted Delano.
After the parade, members of the department applauded Alex, who stood on a traffic island in the parking lot at the back of the station flanked by Chief Ron Madigan and Capt. Joe Kable, who will be stepping into Alex's position.
Alex said he will miss everyone on the department.
"Thanks for all your years of dedicated service," Madigan said. "Personally, you have been a great help to me over the years as chief."
Madigan recalled the help Alex provided during the "astronomical effort" to move into the department's new police station about seven years ago.
"Accreditation, it was a major accomplishment, too. You were the driving force behind that," Madigan said of Alex's work when the department received state certification from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission in 2016.
"You've been a great captain, thanks for all the years," Madigan said.
Alex, a lifelong resident of Swampscott where he raised his son and two daughters, started as a patrol officer in 1979. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1981 and captain in 1999. Alex also took pride leading the Holiday Parade through town every year.
"Absolutely, yeah," Alex said when asked if he was surprised by the parade. "We thought we were just going to have a little lunch. I thought it was wonderful, I thought it was great."