EAST PROVIDENCE — It was a decision not taken lightly, but one he felt he had to make. That’s how Major Charles Swenson described his choice earlier this week to retire from the No. 2 position in the East Providence Police Department, in which he worked for over three decades.
“I have 32 years on the job, in the middle of my 33rd really. With all the uncertainty of the contract negotiations going on, I felt the time was right,” Major Swenson said Jan. 2, two days after submitting his retirement papers. “It was a difficult decision to make, but it was the best decision for me and my family. It was the only one I could make, actually.”
Like his counterpart in the fire department, Chief Joseph Klucznik, did recently, Major Swenson opted to leave his position under terms of the current contract rather than risk losing some benefits as the Budget Commission negotiates new pacts with the city’s unions and top administrators.
As with any considerable change in life, however, Major Swenson regrets seeing his EPPD career come to an end in this manner.
“I’m going to miss it. It’s been fantastic,” the major said of his time on the force. “I worked with a great group of guys over the years. It’s been a great organization to represent. It’s been a lot of fun. It was challenging. There was something new every day. It kept you on your toes. You had to be innovative. You had to stay on top of your game because things always changed so quickly.”
A native of East Providence and a product of its school system, Major Swenson started with the EPPD in August of 1980. He is most known within the department for his hailed work as a detective in the Major Crime Squad, where he spent 10 years investigating all kinds of cases.
“There were so many over the years, it’s hard to say one stands out over the other,” Major Swenson said. “Actually, it’s more about the individuals I worked with more than anything. I met a lot of good people and worked with some great partners, guys who taught me the ropes and helped me along the way. You build a tremendous bond with those guys. Sometimes you’re closer to them than you are to your family. It’s hard to describe until you’ve lived it.
“Any case you solve stands out. I worked on a lot of high-profile cases, murders, robberies. And I worked on a lot of cases that people might say were mundane, but as long as they ended well I was happy.”
Major Swenson, lauded by EPPD Chief Joseph Tavares and his peers, said he has no immediate employment plans, but did say he is not the type of person to just sit around in retirement.
“I’m going to take a bit of a sabbatical, take a week or so to reflect, but I can’t just sit at home and drive my wife crazy,” the major said. “I’ll be looking for something full time if I can find it, but I don’t have anything in particular in mind at the moment. When you do something for so long, you need to step back and refocus I guess is the best way to describe it.”
Whatever Major Swenson does next, it likely won’t consume the amount of time or impact his life quite like serving in the East Providence Police Department for over three decades.
“Thirty-two years on the job is hard to put in a nutshell except to say it was fun,” Major Swenson concluded.