WILTON, Conn. – As Lt. Stephen Bartek leaves the Wilton Police Department, he feels good about following in his father’s footsteps to help keep the town safe.
“I feel really good. I’m leaving at a good time,” said Bartek, 51, who retires from the force on Wednesday. “I’ve put in a full career here and I’m leaving while I still have some life to enjoy.”
Bartek expects his final day will be relatively easy. His final day will conclude at 2 p.m. “It’s the exact opposite of my first day. The first day, they’re handing you everything. Now they’re taking everything back from you.”
Bartek, who joined the Wilton Police in 1981, was inspired by his father, Stephen Bartek Jr., to become a police officer. A Bartek has been on the Wilton force for about 50 years, he said. The father and son did not usually work together as the elder Bartek ran the detective bureau during much of their time together on the force. Stephen Bartek Jr. retired in 1997, the same year Stephen Bartek III was promoted to lieutenant.
“I was never under his command directly,” Bartek said, before pausing. “Well, I take that back. I was under his command because I was his son. I remember that quite clearly growing up.”
Bartek said the environment of police work helped shape him as a person. “It’s just been a positive for me since day one,” he said, noting he most appreciates the interactions – both good and bad – with people he’s worked with and for.
As nice as it will be for Bartek to be home on bad weather days and holidays, he said the work is good reason to be out on those days when most people long to stay in. “I’m told by people who are retired that’s one of the first things they notice. They say it’s bad out and say ‘why aren’t I working?’” he said.
No particular cases he’s worked have popped in to his mind as he heads to the door, Bartek said. He thinks more about his colleagues in emergency services.
The Bartek family tradition won’t continue as the retiring lieutenant’s three children opted for non-police careers. Bartek’s grandfather, Stephen Sr., worked as a carpenter.