Havelock will lose its current police chief in two months.
David Magnusson, who became the city’s police chief three years ago, is resigning effective Nov. 25.
“I’ve been doing this 34 years,” he said of law enforcement, “And I think there’s a time when you just know it’s a good enough time right now.”
He said he doesn’t want to stay in the game so long that he’s in decline when he steps down. “I want to go out like (Rocky) Marciano, not (Muhammed) Ali,” he added, referring to famous boxers. Many boxing fans believe Ali didn’t quit boxing until several years after his reflexes went into decline.
Although he considers himself done with law enforcement after November, he said he is leaving his options open for working in the future.
“I love to write,” he said, and suggested he might turn to his first love. “I got my masters in military history and my bachelor’s in criminology,” he said. “I guess I can combine the two.”
The reason he is leaving is family.
“This place is great,” he said of Havelock. “I feel very much at home and the people are great … but I’ve always believed that family is first, so I’m taking my own advice.”
Magnusson hails from Miami, where he spent 30 years as a police officer. He said he had been thinking of retiring to rejoin his family “off and on,” but said that the recent visit to the Sunshine State by Irma was “a big tipping point.”
He said he felt a lot of consternation as Hurricane Irma approached the state and early predictions had it running up the East Coast of the peninsula, which would have put Miami dead in its tracks. Even with the hurricane riding up the Gulf side of the state, Miami took a heavy hit and significant flooding.
“It took a lot out of me,” he said.
Magnusson added, “We have 11 different households to concern yourself with. … With family you just want to cut to the chase. Family is the most important thing to me, above and beyond everything else, and that includes my law enforcement career.”
He said he would remember Havelock fondly. “I’ve been here three years and it’s flown by,” he said. “Grass didn’t grow under my feet here.”
He noted such accomplishments with the police force including the development of the Do The Right Thing program with local schools, a recent police-sponsored Zumbathon that raised more than $9,000 for the Coastal Women’s Shelter and the city’s rise from 15th safest city in North Carolina two years ago to the fifth safest city in 2016.
“A lot of good things have happened,” He said. “It’s a young department. It’s an idealistic department.
“I’m very proud of the men and women of this department,” he noted. “They really love their job and to serve the community. Sometimes I sit back and watch them, and I nod approvingly. The city is fortunate to have these officers.”
Magnusson added, however, that Nov. 25 is still a ways away and he doesn’t plan to slow down until then.
“That call in the middle of the night could happen at any time,” he said. “I made my announcement early enough, but my mind is still in this job for the next two months.”
Contact Bill Hand at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-635-5677, and follow him @BillHandNBSJ.