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By Brian Chasnoff
The San Antonio Express-News

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - On his last morning as a police officer, Sgt. Alfred Trinidad reigned as the most senior cop and city employee in San Antonio's history.
And still he didn't want to quit.
"It's hard for me to accept this. I'm having a good time," said Trinidad, 72, his eyes wistful at his decision finally to retire. "I don't like it, but the family's been pressuring me."
Such an attitude was no surprise to some of his close friends and apprentices, including those who packed a room Thursday at 6 a.m. in the city's central police substation with awards and cake to celebrate the sergeant's dedication to public service. In nearly 51 years of fighting crime in the Alamo City, Trinidad never really changed his approach to policing.
Some call it a classic style of immersion in the streets, and most deem it extraordinary.
"He has a very down-to-earth approach," said Police Chief William McManus, who spoke at the gathering, "and it's very clear that he respected those people with whom he came into contact, and they respected him as well."
McManus added, "Hopefully, people that he mentored saw that."
Already an architectural draftsman in 1957, Trinidad sought a job with the Police Department to support his brother, who dreamed of becoming a cop but didn't make the cut. Trinidad, who graduated from the academy in an era when cops wore neckties and drove patrol cars that lacked air conditioning, figured he'd stay on for a short while, maybe a year.
Eventually, he realized he'd stumbled onto his calling.
What followed was a scale of experiences - exciting and amusing, frightening and tragic - that any officer who responds to emergencies for a living must face, only stretched far beyond the two decades that typically mark the breadth of a cop's career.
There was that morning in the 1970s when someone stole his sister-in-law's purse from her car and called to claim the reward money. Trinidad had the day off, but he drove anyway to a meeting spot and chased the suspect for several city blocks before catching the man beneath an underpass.
He was suspended for three days for using too much force, he recalled.
And there are stories that still make him chuckle.
As a patrol officer on the West Side, Trinidad kept getting called to a home in which a woman alleged her husband had beaten her. Trinidad arrested the suspect twice for assault. The third time, the man pleaded his case.
"You know, every time you arrest me, she goes out dancing," he said.
Trinidad parked, turned off his headlights and waited. A few minutes later, the woman crept out of the back door wearing a dress.
"From then on, I took him to his mama's house," Trinidad said.
In 1991, the sergeant went to a North Side house in which a man had doused himself in gasoline and was threatening to set himself on fire with a match. Walking across a kitchen floor drenched with fuel, Trinidad somehow managed to handcuff the man.
"He's a San Antonio version of 'Die Hard' - Bruce Willis," Officer Alex Cornejo said. "He's an extraordinary man."
But the call that Trinidad can never forget echoed a loss he suffered in his own life. A 5-year-old boy accidentally shot his 4-year-old brother in the head with a rifle, he said.
"He had his head wrapped up in a towel, and he was saying, 'Wake up, wake up, wake up,'" Trinidad recalled. "You question why. Why does this happen to kids?"
In 1998, Trinidad lost his only son to a degenerative illness. The sergeant was 61. His pension had long since frozen, but he didn't quit. In 2001, he persuaded lawmakers to alter the pension law in his favor and later sued the city over allegations of age discrimination.
Now, Trinidad said he realizes that everything must come to an end. On Thursday, Trinidad left the police substation for the last time - not to tackle bad guys, but rather to sit down with some friends over tacos.
"I'm kind of leery," he said with a diehard cop's sense of humor. "I think I'm going to get shot."

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I know a guy who retired as a civil service employee from the Post Office, and still works full time at staples. Must like to work. He started working there when it was "The US Postal Department" and it was totally federalized. Not like the quasi federal USPS of today.
 
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I know a guy who retired as a civil service employee from the Post Office, and still works full time at staples. Must like to work. He started working there when it was "The US Postal Department" and it was totally federalized. Not like the quasi federal USPS of today.
I'm not saying I won't work after retirement, but it won't have anything to do with badges and guns.
 
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