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Dec 24, 2014 4:06 PM

Kevin Landrigan: Law enforcement icon Earl Sweeney to retire


He's called the king of common sense.

Earl Sweeney, the assistant commissioner of safety, is retiring for good Dec. 31 capping six decades on the job and 54 of them in law enforcement, 40 years in state government.

"Assistant Commissioner Sweeney has served us remarkably for more years than most of us can count,'' Gov. Maggie Hassan said.

Sweeney recalled talking about hanging it up with his wife who suffers from acute arthritis.

"I tell her I'm not sure how many inches there are left on this yardstick at 77 years old so I think it's time for me to be a full-time husband,'' Sweeney said.

His remarkable police career started as Belmont Police Chief where he helped stop Richard Paul Pavlick in 1960 who had seven sticks of dynamite in his car with an urge to kill President John F. Kennedy.

At the Department of Safety, he was deputy commissioner for 10 years before bringing the state's police standards and training complex into the 20th century with better equipment and housing for female cadets.

Governor Maggie Hassan said Sweeney's legacy is one of quiet competence without the drama.

"He brought us years of understanding about the importance of strong, thoughtful public policy when it comes to public safety always balanced and tempered by remarkably good common sense,'' Hassan said.

His peers will try to pull the 77-year-old Sweeney back into critical volunteer roles.

"I'm open to that as long as it doesn't involve the four, coldest winter months,'' Sweeney quipped.

"Everyone today who takes the oath of office and puts on a badge with the conditions we have today is a hero just for doing that,'' Sweeney said.


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