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Police celebrate retirement, three promotions

Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

HUNTINGTON -- The retirement of a police lieutenant made way for the promotion of three officers Monday at the Huntington Police Department.

Lt. Daren McNeil stepped down from his post after 25 years of service. He just attained the rank of lieutenant in January and briefly served as evening shift commander. His return to the road, albeit brief, provided him a chance to mentor the department's younger officers.

"It was such a blessing for me," he said of the final assignment. "They reminded me of why I got into this job in the first place. They are top-notch, professional officers ... I think we both made impacts on each other."

McNeil now looks forward to spending quality time with his family. He also would like to do something that lets him have a positive influence without the problem-solving tasks of police work. He fought back tears Monday, saying his relationships with those in attendance will be what he misses most.

Jason Young, now a lieutenant, led those being promoted Monday. He was joined by now Sgt. Vern Casey and Cpl. Ted Backus.

Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook honored McNeil with the department's Distinguished Service Award. He also praised those being promoted, saying they represent some of the department's best.

"You've been overachievers, consummate professionals and I have the utmost confidence in what the future has in store for us as a department and for you individually," he said.

Young will step in to McNeil's vacancy on evening shift patrol. He will be joined by Casey, who will become that unit's sergeant. It will be a new assignment for both men. Young moves over from property crimes, with Casey coming from the traffic unit. Both mentioned a desire to lead their young colleagues, including what Casey hopes will be a renewed sense of family on the shift as they work toward solving problems.

Each of those being promoted were pinned with new badges by their children. In Backus' case, it was three kids ranging in age from 6 to 12. It was a special moment for the new corporal, who will remain as a detective in the department's family unit.

"It was great," he said. "It was an opportunity for them to share in my job and career. A lot of times the cases I deal with aren't kid-friendly, and I'm not able to share with them what I do on a daily basis. To be able to bring them here and show them camaraderie, the family we have here at HPD, is really great."

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