For every first responder, police officer, firefighter and EMT in the small towns where some think “nothing ever happens,” after 32 years and 10 months, my eyes tell a different story.
When I blink my eyes, I can remember a young man in his early 20s getting hired as a special police oifficer, eager to protect and serve.
I can still see the thousands of extra hours I worked to feed my family, and give them a good life.
I can still see the many family events, parties and holidays I had to miss.
I can still see all of the older officers I was honored to have worked with who have now passed away, many at a very young age.
When I blink my eyes, I can still see the small baby I did CPR on 30 years ago, who unfortunately did not survive.
I can still see the night when my brother, also a police officer, was forced to shoot someone, and I can still remember the tears in my father’s eyes while sitting in the station listening to the facts.
I can still see every dead, decaying body I had to see, and the smell that never seems to go away.
I can still see the many suicides I had to investigate, from hanging, to shotgun blasts to the head, to sharp objects used to inflict the fatal wounds, to asphyxiation from car exhaust.
I can still see every overdose victim who passed away, and the ones close to death that Narcan brought back to life.
When I blink my eyes, I still see the young man who blew his fingers off while making homemade bombs.
I can still see the mangled bodies from every serious car accident I responded to, the compound fractures and the spiral fractured broken legs.
I can still see the pedestrians struck and killed in the roadway, when we performed CPR without success.
I can still see the motorcycle accidents, where drivers had limbs ripped off.
I can still see the many people I did CPR on.
When I blink my eyes, I can still see all the Fourth of July fireworks details I had to work,
And I can still see all the hometown football game details I was able to work.
When I blink my eyes I can see the many drug dealers I was fortunate enough to arrest.
I can still see all of the search warrants we were able to serve.
I can still see the rides in the decoy vans on the way to serve a search warrant, thinking “It’s game time, boys.”
I can still see the drug suspect standing there as we crashed through his door with a loaded hand gun within arm’s reach.
I can still see myself fighting suspects, where surrendering was never an option.
I can still see the gang member who stated that his gang stays out of town, because they know we will pull them over.
I can still see us going into dark basements when the homeowners were afraid to.
When I blink my eyes I still see the poor families I had to tell a loved one was killed or passed away.
I can still see the phone calls to my own loved ones saying I may not make it home if an investigation went bad, or arrest of a suspect went bad.
I can still see the robbery suspect who fled to Salem running back into the woods and the large boulder he tried to throw at us, and I can still see the wrestling match that took place, with the state police helicopter circling us like some Hollywood movie. Only this was real life
When I blink my eyes, I think of the ride back from another state with a murder suspect, who stated “I’d try to escape but I know you’ll kick the crap out of me.”
I can still see the threatening phone calls called into the station, the caller stating “he was going to kill me.”
When I blink my eye I still see the CVS robbery happening right in front of me, while I was off duty, and the pharmacist yelling to me “Tim he’s got a gun” and me armed with only my laundry detergent. I threw the detergent at the suspect’s car, causing him to pull over and get arrested
When I blink my eyes, I remember working with the DEA, FBI, and at the time, the best drug task force around, the Essex County Drug Task Force.
I can still see all of the people I helped in court while acting as the court prosecutor.
I think of all the great people I worked with at Lynn District/Juvenile Court.
When I blink my eyes, I can still see the public who used to respect the police.
I can still see myself responding to every alarm and every robbery.
When I blink my eyes, I can still see the stabbing victims with their open wounds, fighting to survive.
I can still see the many rape victims, both young and old, that I have interviewed.
I can still see the many battered domestic violence victims I have photographed.
When I blink my eyes, I can see my father and I thank him for guiding me toward a career in law enforcement.
When I blink my eyes, I pray my brothers and sisters in Blue return safe to their homes following their tour of duty.
I still remember all of the great law enforcement officers I was fortunate to serve with and work with.
I can still see all of the great media people I was fortunate to have worked with.
I can now say thank you to the town of Swampscott for letting me protect and serve them for 33 years.
When I blink my eyes, I no longer see that younger man in the mirror, I see a wiser man who knows it’s time to go.
When I blink my eyes, I can still see all of the people who think nothing ever happens in our small town.
My eyes tell me “if they only knew what we really happens.”
When I blink my eyes, I know I will never be able to unsee some of the things I’ve seen over the past 33 years
This is just a brief look into some of the incidents that occurred over the past 32 years of my career, some of which will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to help protect and serve the many fine residents of Swampscott. I need to thank my brothers and sisters in Blue, who I was so fortunate to stand arm and arm with in this fight of good vs. evil — the men and women who do go in the basement. May God bless you all, and keep you safe, and as always, never ever surrender. Defenders of the line, the Thin Blue Line, I can finally close my eyes, my tour duty is officially over.
Timothy P. Cassidy recently retired as a sergeant with the Swampscott Police Department.