Fred Budnick feels like he's on vacation, and he suspects it may feel that way for a while.
But after 37 years of service with the Aberdeen Police Department, the 59-year-old isn't on vacation – he's retired. His last day was April 28.
He's looking forward to retirement.
"At this point in my life, it's the right thing to do and I was able to do it," Budnick, who's also volunteered with the Aberdeen Fire Department for more than 40 years, said in a recent interview. "I'm looking forward to it and seeing what the future brings."
The lifelong Aberdeen resident started working as a dispatcher at the police department in January 1980, he said, and in September of that year was hired as a patrol officer.
He's been supervisor of the criminal investigations division, a shift supervisor, a public information officer and an administrative sergeant, among other roles, including serving as one of the department's original crisis negotiators.
One of his favorite roles, he said, was being an instructor.
"I always liked the interaction with teaching," he said. "That was something I enjoyed the most."
Some cases and incidents over 37 years really stick out in his mind.
In the late '90s, he was the criminal investigations sergeant when two women were murdered at the old Wawa on Route 40. There was another homicide in Aberdeen the weekend after that.
"That's a little unusual for this area," he said. "But we had a really strong team, and we were able to get two people convicted in those cases. That was a success type thing."
In the early 1980s, a young female was found murdered on the railroad tracks near Route 715. No arrest was ever made in that case, but Budnick said he has a strong suspicion of who was involved.
The Vi Ripken kidnapping in 2012 was an interesting event and another case that hasn't been solved.
"Because of who it was, it had an international flair to it in some aspects," Budnick said. "We're still working on that, but no arrest has been in that yet."
As public information officer, Budnick handled all of the media inquiries surrounding the Ripken case.
"It was a learning experience and it was someone that's so involved in the community as she is, the name recognition, that's obviously a case I look back on and remember throughout my career," Budnick said.
Budnick said the people in Aberdeen – his co-workers and the citizens – kept him in his job for these past 37 years.
"I've had I don't know how many interactions with people over the years," he said.
Aberdeen has a "small town" feel, "where you know a lot of people. I still see a lot of people I grew up with, went to school with," he said. "I think that does make it a little more special when you police the area you grew up in."
Budnick, whose wife still works as a registered nurse, doesn't have any retirement plans as of yet.
"I'm going to take a little bit of time and just relax and enjoy myself for a little while," he said, adding he's already started on his "honey-do" list.
He'll also be able to be more active in the fire department, fulfilling his obligations as treasurer in addition to running calls.
"That's going to keep me busy for as much as I want it to," Budnick said.
He may go back to work at some point, but he doesn't know when or to do what.
Budnick said he'll miss the daily interaction with the people he worked with as a policeman, but won't miss the late night phone calls, the emails and all the other things that went along with the position he was in.
"It will certainly be a change, but one that I'm anticipating to be a positive one," he said.