John Owens’ retirement ceremony was more than a year late, but that didn’t stop the well-wishers from gathering to congratulate the veteran policeman.
Owens, who most recently served as deputy chief of the Port Arthur Police Department, retired on April 3, 2020. However, due to COVID restrictions, the celebration has been postponed. On Wednesday came the speeches, handshakes and plaques for his 36 years and two months of service.
Chief Tim Duriso provided highlights of Owens’ career: Field Training Officer, Instructor Certification, Port Arthur Community Partner, maintained a relationship that led to the formation of the Port Arthur Neighborhood Action Council, acted as Emergency Management Coordinator and helped develop the city’s emergency development plan who continues to reach the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s highest “advanced” readiness level.
Owens was also appointed to the governor’s Texas Emergency Management Advisor Council, representing the Southeast Texas region. He was elected President of the Sabine Neches Chefs Association in two terms and remains a member. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has received an award number of commendations.
Words from his former co-workers led to laughter, applause and thought.
Deputy Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Havens said “It’s been a wild ride” when he found the city has carried out more evacuations than others in the nation, but that’s a story for another time.
There was also the story of the time when Owens commanded a C17 cargo plane that Havens said would save for another day.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie between the police and fire departments in town and we owe it to John because the kind of person he is,” Havens said.
Newly retired Port Arthur Police Det. Paul Arvizo remembers working with a very organized Owens.
“I’ll name him meticulously,” said Arviso before the ceremony began. “He was taking notes when he met someone on the street. It was sorted and organized alphabetically. When he met them, they were in the book, a little three-ring book. “
Retired fire chief Larry Richard briefly shared how he and Owens worked on a grant to buy a mobile command center. By the time the unit was ordered, Hurricane Rita had struck the area and two years had passed without assuming command center, he said.
A phone call was made and they soon spotted the command center, which was basically a frame with two pieces of metal and wheels.
“Johnny got ballistic,” Richard said of Owens when he saw the poor service.
The departments eventually took over the mobile command center.
Owens may be retired, but his job isn’t done. Over the past year, he has assisted the police department in areas of emergency management and as a consultant, and continues to provide assistance as needed, Duriso said.
“John was a valuable asset with a wealth of knowledge and experience,” said Duriso. “We wish him all the best.”
Owens will continue to serve as a contractor for the department.
“It’s been a year since I retired. So it’s kind of fun. I don’t care what day it is, I don’t care what time it is. It’s a wonderful thing, ”said Owens when he retired. “I have been blessed with good health. I have been blessed with a woman who will keep me alive for 46 years (years of marriage). And I have good family members, a daughter-in-law who keeps me in shape and makes sure that I take care of myself. So I enjoy life. I miss many of you, and I sincerely mean that. But I don’t miss the stress. “
He said he didn’t really understand when people told him it would take a few months to get used to retirement, but now he does.
“It’s true,” he said. “You don’t realize how much stress you are under, and it’s just part of the job until you’re gone for a while and nobody does anything. It’s just the nature of the animal. Tell you what, when you heard me say it before (about retirement) I can only recommend it. “
Also in attendance were his wife Sharon, son Michael, and Michael’s wife Susan. His other son Wade was unable to attend.