Bagpipes skirled, drums boomed and the American flag rippled in a brisk, cold wind when Insp. Harold Jantzen walked out of the Suffolk Police Department’s Fourth Precinct in Smithtown and into his new life.
Jantzen’s family beamed with pride. His colleagues cheered. SCPD brass, including Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Chief of Department Stuart Cameron, thanked him for his decades of service. Jantzen — perhaps the longest-serving cop in the department’s history — retired Wednesday after nearly a half a century on the job.
“When I first came on the police department and heard it had a 20-year retirement, that sounded pretty good to me,” said Jantzen, who joined the department 48 years ago in 1971. “Little did I realize that I would exceed more than twice that amount of years.”
Cameron said Jantzen, known as “Hal,” is believed to be the longest-serving officer in the department’s history, although officials have not been able to verify that.
“The department was 11 years old when he started working here,” Cameron said of the SCPD, formed in 1960. “I was 8.”
Jantzen, 70, served in more than 20 commands during his career, including 10 years as the commander of the Marine Bureau. His most recent job was as commander of the Fourth Precinct. Jantzen credited his longevity to the fact that he had numerous positions in the department, jobs that he said were enriching and challenging.
“We were blessed to have him for 48 years,” Hart said. “We hope he has a happy and healthy post-retirement life.”
Jantzen’s family tree has deep roots in the Suffolk County Police Department. He worked with his brother Don early in his career as a patrol officer in the Fifth Precinct. Another brother, John Jantzen, was killed while intervening in a domestic abuse situation in 1991.
John Jantzen’s son Jack Jantzen serves as an officer in the Fifth Precinct. Jack, just a month old when his father was slain, said the inspector has been a tremendous role model throughout his life.
“It’s great to be here, to hear how people love and respect him,” Jack Jantzen said of his uncle.
The father of four and grandfather of nine said he plans to spend his newfound free time with his family. He said he plans to travel, pursue sports and recreation, and tackle a “honey-do” list.
"I've been putting off a few projects that are probably overdue,” Jantzen said. “My wife has been very patient."