LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -Tuesday was the last day at work for Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon and Deputy Chief Mark Kraus - as both retire after years with the force.
“What a great surprise, I’ve got no inbox. My computers got no emails, uh. It’s the day to retire,” Dixon said as he sat at his nearly empty desk on his last day.
The end of an era, as Don Dixon retires from a lifetime career in law enforcement.
“I feel great. 47 years. Time to smell the roses,” Dixon said.
Dixon served as chief for 17 years and before that spent 30 years in the FBI.
He admits it went by in the blink of an eye, and he leaves with great memories.
“My dad once told me you don’t judge a man by how much money he has, you judge a man by the wealth of his memories,” Dixon said.
Dixon credits Kraus with contributing to his success. Kraus, too, is retiring.
“I think everybody has the idea that retirement is, you just go sit on the couch. I don’t even want a couch. My passion is the people of this community. And I do plan on serving in some of those roles and continuing to serve and hopefully build bridges, continue to try to do that,” Kraus said.
Dixon says he won’t be working, but he will be busy.
“I got about nine trips planned this year. I’ve got two grandchildren in California. But first thing I’m doing, my girlfriend and I are going to New York city in March for St. Patrick’s Day and to see my old FBI partner of ten years. Stay with him for three nights. So, that’s the first trip. I’ve got many planned after that. Visit the grandchildren, going to go to Scotland and just going to enjoy life,” Dixon said. “Going to enjoy life, going to smell the roses. And the roses to me are to be the best father, grandfather, uncle, friend, father-in-law that I could be."
Dixon expects to enjoy not checking emails or waking up at three in the morning as they are so often summoned to crime scenes. Kraus will enjoy that too, but, at age 51, he may work again.
"I don't know what I’m going to do in terms of if I’m going to go be employed again somewhere else. I may consider that. The option for me is wide open. But for about a year I’m going to take off and decompress from the demands of law enforcement," said Kraus.
As Dixon departs he says he will miss people who work at the LCPD, for whom he has tremendous respect and admiration.
“These people are amazing. They never give up. They never give up. I’ll give you an example. We’ve solved 84 homicides in a row. Our last unsolved homicide is in June or July of 2008. And that’s not anything to do with me, it’s to do with the people, the leadership, the deputy chiefs, the captains, the majors, the lieutenants, the sergeants, the corporals, patrol officers, crime scene, everybody. They never give up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to call them and say, ‘go home, get some rest,’" Dixon said.
At 10 a.m. there was a ceremony to officially pin badges on the new deputy chiefs, Franklin Fondel and Mike Nicosia. And Mayor Nic Hunter pinned the chief badge on Shawn Caldwell.
Dixon, Kraus and Major Gordon Fontenot, who’s retiring after more than 40 years, also received gifts of appreciation.
And so, with emotional goodbyes came a change in command the LCPD.