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U.P. Mainstay Readies to Retire after 33 Years

Not long after graduating from the 101st Trooper Recruit School in 1987, and at the push from a partner, Capt. John Halpin visited Newberry. Growing up in Marine City, in St. Clair County, he’d only been to the Upper Peninsula once before, to Sault Ste. Marie. 

“I loved it there,” said Captain Halpin. “I put in for a transfer to the Newberry Post as soon as there was an opening for a transfer.”

The near brand-new trooper, assigned to the Pontiac Post at the time, was so confident in his decision that he and his wife purchased a home some 400 miles away on South Manistique Lake before the move was even approved. 

“I needed that transfer to go through or I would have had a vacation home a long way from Pontiac,” said Captain Halpin, laughing. “It worked out and the U.P. has been home ever since. It’s where my wife and I have raised our two children.”

Captain Halpin retires at the end of August with most of his 33-year career assigned to the Eighth District, which encompasses all of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan above the Mackinac Bridge. He’s served as district commander for the last eight years.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best men and women I know,” said Captain Halpin. “The U.P. is a special place and I encourage new troopers to give it a chance. I strongly believe serving in the Eighth District gives a unique and well-rounded training experience and a chance at really becoming one with their own communities. With a smaller population base, people know who we are and what we do.”  

In addition to the Pontiac and Newberry posts, Captain Halpin served at the Manistique and Munising posts, as well as within the Criminal Investigation Division, Forensic Science Division and the Special Investigation Section at Eighth District Headquarters. He was also a member of the Emergency Support Team for almost 10 years.

His career has included high-profile details too, including providing protection when Pope John Paul II visited Pontiac in 1987 and he’s helped with security for four sitting presidents. As part of his duties as Eighth District Commander, he was incident commander for eight Labor Day Mackinac Bridge walks. 

“Something that has really stuck with me was having the opportunity, very early on, to be temporary staff for three trooper recruit schools,” he said. “Training the next generation of troopers was daunting at times, but so very rewarding. I’ve been able to watch them flourish throughout the years saving lives, solving serious crimes and just being there for those in need.”
“Another high point has been working alongside the dedicated men and women of our local partnering agencies.”  
Captain Halpin describes low points too, specifically losing 15 troopers, some of whom were close, personal friends, killed in the line of duty. Even with those tragedies, he notes, “The good days far outweigh the bad.” 

Retirement will look a lot different than his days do now. Though he never considered joining the Marine Services Unit, he loves being on the water and has always wanted to follow in his grandfather, father and uncle’s footsteps sailing on the Great Lakes on a Great Lakes Freighter.  

“I’ve taken the steps to obtain my U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner certifications and documents,” Captain Halpin says.  “In the meantime, until I get that call I will be enjoying the U.P. life.”