07/25/10 — After 28 years of service, GPD's Maj. Hopper retires

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After 28 years of service, GPD's Maj. Hopper retires

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on July 25, 2010 1:50 AM

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Maj. Mike Hopper receives a plaque from Mayor Al King, right.

Maj. Mike Hopper said he was feeling "like it was the last day of school" during his recent retirement party, finishing a 28-year career with the Goldsboro Police Department.

The police major, who has run the Operations Division of the department since the late 1990s, said he has major plans.

"I'm going white-water rafting in the next couple of weeks, and I've got a little 'honey do' list," Hopper said with a modest grin.

He also just recently joined the Lions Club and looks forward to activities there, he said.

It all seems a long way away from his days in Basic Law Enforcement Training, which he took with police Chief Tim Bell.

Both Bell and Hopper started the same day, Aug. 4, 1982.

One of his earliest memories, he said, is of Sheriff Carey Winders, who once worked on the Goldsboro Police Department as an officer.

The sheriff was apparently quite the practical joker in his day, and used to tease Hopper about his fear of Willow Dale Cemetery, near East Elm and South John streets.

"Well, the sheriff, he worked on my shift at that time, and he parked at an old plant, unbeknownst to me," Hopper said. "He goes in behind the gates, and I have to pull the gates shut. There's a chain.

"So I go down there, to grab the gate and pull it shut, and there's the sheriff, hanging on to it, going 'Woooooo..."

But the joke later caught up with Winders, the police major remembers.

"One other memorable event -- I was the sergeant on shift, and we had an officer that took off on lunch time, he went fishing, down past the Elmwood Cemetery," Hopper recounted. "Well, Carey (Winders) on his lunch break, he goes down there on the riverbank to check on his friend that was fishing."

The sheriff was apparently standing on a riverbank that had lost its firmness, and fell into mud and water.

Hopper noticed something was up later, when he noticed water squishing out of the future's sheriff's shoes, he said. Then, looking up, he saw the entire back of the sheriff's police uniform, covered in mud.

"That's when J.P. Morgan was chief here," the retiring police major said.

Hopper was promoted early on, and spent more of his career in a supervisory role than as a street officer.

"I was one of the original corporals, when we started the corporal system here. That was my first promotion," he said.

From there, he went on to investigations, then made patrol sergeant in the late 1980s. In 1992, he would become captain, before moving on to be a major in 1999.

He has served as Tim Bell's "right-hand man" for many years, watching over the day-to-day routes and activities of Goldsboro police.

"What I'll miss most is s the people, really. The officers," Hopper said. "It's a little bit different than leaving other jobs, because a lot of the situations that they deal with, it's life or death, or it can be. And that kind of gives you a special bond."