Published February 03. 2014 6:00PM Updated February 03. 2014 11:41PM
Groton — Town Police Chief Michael Crowley, who twice over the last several months been out of work for personal reasons, officially retired on Monday, according to Town Manager Mark Oefinger.
Crowley, whom Oefinger placed on administrative leave on Jan. 24 for undisclosed reasons, submitted a letter Friday announcing his planned retirement. Oefinger said Crowley has personal issues to deal with, and the announcement was not a big surprise.
After 28 years working for the town, Oefinger said Crowley was "certainly eligible."
"We wish him well," Oefinger said. "I'm sure it was tough to make that decision. But he has an opportunity to start a second career."
Crowley has served as chief since 2011, promoted from his position as deputy chief with the retirement of former Police Chief Kelly Fogg.
Oefinger said he plans to discuss with the Town Council options for hiring a new chief — whether to go outside the department or promote an officer already in the department. Deputy Chief Steven Smith, who was promoted at the same time as Crowley, will continue to run the department until Oefinger decides what course of action to take.
Oefinger said Crowley wrote in his retirement letter that he was honored to serve the town in numerous capacities over his many years of service and proud to be associated with the fine officers at the department.
A Worcester, Mass., native, Crowley started his career as a police officer in Hartford and joined the town police department in 1984, rising through the ranks and promoted to deputy chief in 2005. During the course of his career, Crowley had served on the statewide narcotics task force, was a member of the dive team and the bike patrol and a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
On Dec. 10, Crowley was granted a family medical leave and was out of work for about a month. Oefinger placed Crowley on administrative leave on Jan. 24, a day after emergency medical personnel were called to his Mystic home for an unknown medical call. He had not returned to work before the announcement of his retirement.
Oefinger said Crowley has talked about possible retirement since last year and is eligible for his pension benefits. Crowley's status at the department was discussed in executive session at the Town Council meeting last week, though councilors declined to comment on what was discussed.
Town Council member Bruce Flax said Monday that his kids played Little League with Crowley's kids and called him a "great guy."
"I'm jealous he gets to retire at 55," Flax said.