BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police, retired Friday after 37 years with LSP.
Edmonson spent his final morning in his post at the cafeteria on the state police compound, saying farewell to employees, giving hugs, and taking pictures.
"I hope I have touched their life as much as they have touched mine," Edmonson said.
For nine years, Edmonson lead the force. Often, superintendents are called on to be a face of comfort in tough times. Edmonson's tenure was no exception, with Edmonson taking charge during several tragedies, including the floods across the Baton Rouge area and the police ambush in July 2016 that left three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers dead.
"Our heart is broken, but our spirit is still intact," Edmonson said during a press conference after the shooting.
On his last day as superintendent, a black band once again draped his badge, representing the life of slain EBRSO Deputy Shawn Anderson.
"It's been a tough week. It's been a tough year. I will remember those people, I will never forget them," Edmonson said.
Edmonson is still haunted by the time such tragedy hit his own department. In 2015, Trooper Steven Vincent was shot and killed while assisting a driver on the side of the road near Lake Charles. Edmonson said he is still in touch with Vincent's young son.
"Just to hear that little man's voice say, 'Colonel, I just wanted to say hey to you, I just wanted to talk to you.' And to hear that voice say, 'I wish I could talk to my dad.' And I tell him, 'You can still talk to him. Just talk, he's still listening,'" Edmonson said.
When he took over the office nine years ago, Edmonson promised to tighten the relationship between the state police and local law enforcement. Current and former local leaders say he achieved that goal.
"He truly loves the people of this state and was always there every time I ever called for help," said Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain.
"He has opened his arm and offered assistance, equipment, man-power, investigative services, anything we needed," said Bill Grant, the retired police chief in Gonzales.
Grant is currently a criminal investigator with LSP.
As this chapter closes, Edmonson said he is not sure what is next. However, he does hope to spend more time with family. Edmonson announced plans to retire earlier this month amid an overtime pay scandal. He is expected to give parting remarks at the State Police cafeteria Friday morning.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that Maj. Kevin Reeves will take over as the interim head of the department. Reeves, who commands a state police quick reaction force, will start the interim job Saturday, March 25.
In a phone interview with Maj. Reeves, he said he is "honored just to be considered."
"Colonel Edmonson has done an incredible job with state police. He's made incredible strides for the agency and with our relationships with our partners. He's going to be, he has huge shoes to fill, but we are going to give it our best and fortunately, he laid a good path for us to follow," said Reeves.