On May 5, Sgt. Ed Burton completed his 30-plus-year career as a police officer.

Nearly all of them were with the New Albany Police Department, where he began working in late 1989.

Back then, New Albany's population had not yet hit 1,000 residents, the (then) village totaled about 1 square mile and New Albany's police force consisted of a chief and two officers: Burton and Greg Jones, our current police chief.

Suffice to say, 1989 in New Albany was a much different time in our history.

Today, New Albany consists of more than 14 square miles and is closing in on 10,000 residents, with a daytime population exceeding 20,000. The police force now has as many officers as were on the street in 1989 -- two -- assigned to the New Albany-Plain Local Schools campus during the school year.

While helping keep the community safe for the past 27 years and having a hand in supervising or providing guidance to many officers throughout his career, Burton coordinated some very popular outreach programs, including our Citizen Police Academy for residents who want to learn more about what it is like to be a police officer; our bike rodeo, a safety program for children ranging in ages from 5 to 12; our Neighborhood Blockwatch program; our chaplain program; and our speed-trailer program, which is used to educate motorists and help them slow down.

He also was instrumental in instituting sobriety checkpoints and served as acting chief for a brief time earlier in his career.

Whether working with other officers and dispatchers or communicating with residents, Burton's biggest attribute was his ability to relate to people of all ages. He cared about the community and the people he took an oath to protect, and he worked hard to develop long-lasting relationships. Those are skills from which all officers, young and old, can learn.

As Burton was finishing his last week as a full-time officer, Chief Jones said, "Sgt. Burton came to the city as it began to grow almost 30 years ago.

He has been instrumental in developing the department as it has advanced in size and professionalism.

His honesty, kindness and sense of fairness have served as an example for all of us. I will miss his sound judgment and the clarity he often brings to complicated matters."

In his retirement letter, Burton left open the possibility of working part-time -- but no longer on patrol -- on different police-oriented outreach projects.

Although no one can predict the future, I didn't want this momentous occasion to go by without thanking Burton for his 27 years of service. His career, leadership and example will leave a positive impact on our police department well into the future.

Scott McAfee is chief communications and marketing officer for New Albany.