WESTFIELD – Westfield Police Capt. Michael A. McCabe retired April 2 after nearly 40 years on the job.
McCabe began his career as a reserve officer, becoming a fulltime patrolman April 28, 1986.
McCabe moved through the ranks, working as a detective, then becoming a sergeant in charge of the Community Police Unit. He became a lieutenant and headed the detective bureau before being promoted to captain April 28, 2008, exactly 22 years after joining the department full time.
McCabe said he loved being a member of the police department, but enjoyed a few positions more than others.
“It’s a coin toss between community policing and detective bureau,” he said.
McCabe said that for the most part, policing, at its heart, remains largely unchanged.
“If you have common sense, a lot of curiosity and are empathetic, then policing is a pretty straight forward job,” he said.
McCabe got a little choked up when he said his best days on the job were any days that he met up with someone he impacted.
“The best days will always, always, always be when somebody will come up to me and say ‘Hey, Mike, you probably don’t remember me, but you changed my life’,” McCabe said. “And when they said that, it meant it was changed for the better.”
Some of the hardest days involved domestic abuse and sexual assaults.
“Solving crimes was always something I enjoyed, but with crimes, there is always a victim and that’s one of the harder things that nobody thinks about,” he said. “When you have a particularly heinous crime, you feel like anytime that victim sees you, it brings it all back. That’s hard.”
McCabe said improving the Orange Street neighborhood in the 90s and the building up of the animal control unit were among his proudest accomplishments as a police officer.
Although he usually focuses on the positive, McCabe said in his nearly four decades with the department, he has one case that will always, in some way, haunt him — Jamie Lusher.
Lusher was a 16-year-old Westfield resident who left his house Nov. 6, 1992 on his bike, heading 12 miles away to his grandparents’ home in Blandford. He never arrived. The search for Lusher was extensive and McCabe was heavily involved and in close contact with his family.
In 2013, convicted killer Lewis S. Lent Jr., already in prison for life for the murder of a 12-year-old boy, confessed to killing Lusher. His body was never found, and McCabe said it just never felt right.
“I regret we couldn’t solve that for his family when it happened,” McCabe said.
McCabe said he will miss the people at work, but definitely not the police station building, which is in need of major repair that McCabe called “a disaster.”
“I am not going to miss that building,” he said, laughing. “I will miss the people and the interactions, but I will stay in contact.”
McCabe, an avid runner, said he is ready for the next chapter, which includes seeking election as Westfield’s mayor. He added that he is proud of his service to the city and he plans to continue supporting the community.
“I loved it every day – some more than others,” he said of his years as a police officer. “I love this community.”
McCabe was feted on his last day with a celebration at Shortstop Bar & Grill.