As Cpl. Kurt Miglinas mulled over his last day of work with the Essex Police Department, he was adamant about one thing: He would miss the people the most.

Miglinas ended his 41-year career as a police officer – the last 35 years at EPD as a detective and school resource officer – just before the holidays last month. While he was on patrol for his first two years at EPD and worked a dozen years as a detective, Miglinas said his specialty was always working with students in schools.

Before he was named Essex’s school resource officer in 1997, Miglinas was already teaching curriculum in the schools, like the “Officer Friendly” program or drug and alcohol education. When he started working in the schools full-time, he would respond to calls at schools all around the community to help deal with a situation with a student.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I think that’s a strength of mine: working with students, with young kids and the families that are having difficulties and issues as well.”

It’s clear Miglinas has a passion for his work and the students he helped in the schools. For him, work as an SRO was less about punishing students and more about helping them understand their mistake, repair the harm they’ve caused and grow as people.

While certain cases were sent to family court because a student broke the law, Miglinas said he tried to instead send cases to the Essex Community Justice Center because of its reparative nature.

“They have [the students] do something, they have to physically volunteer their time, they have to write a paper, whereas the courts sometimes don’t do that,” Miglinas explained. “There’s more of a personal touch with the CJC.”

Miglinas has a master’s degree in clinical psychology from St. Michael’s College, which he said has helped him immensely as an SRO because he understands that children with behavioral issues can often be facing difficult situations at home.

“You look at the whole child, not just one particular act,” he said. “You look at…what they’re surrounded with.”

Miglinas shared “mixed emotions” about leaving the force. After more than four decades, he said he knows it’s time to move on.

“But at the same time, I’m mostly going to miss the people I’ve worked with in the schools and the town and village, at the police department and all the kids in the schools,” he said. “I’m going to miss them.”

He plans to take the next couple of months off to do some cross-country skiing and hiking and spend more time with his wife. While he’s not sure what’s next for him, he said he’s grateful for the time he’s spent at the EPD and leaves his post satisfied with the work he’s done.

“I’d like to think I made a difference in some kid’s life somewhere down the road,” he said.