A New Chapter for Officer Steve Plympton

Marjorie Turner Hollman
Recently retired Norfolk Police Officer Steve Plympton (known as “O.P.” to area schoolchildren).
Issue Date: 
October, 2018
Article Body: 

It’s challenging to get Norfolk Police Officer Steve Plympton to talk about himself. Recently retired from the Norfolk Police Department after serving full time since 1986, Plympton is eager to point the attention to those who have helped him along the way.
“I’m very thankful for the officers I’ve worked with through the years,” Plympton noted in a recent conversation. “My first chief in Norfolk, Chief Bill Treeful, he’s the one who hired me to my full time position in Norfolk. My other two bosses, Chief Charles Stone Jr. and Deputy Chief Jon Carroll, I worked with both of them for a long time. It was truly a pleasure having spent the longevity with my Chief and Deputy. Both have looked out for what’s best within the entire department’s needs. They have always been supportive of the entire department when it comes to training and making you a more polished officer in the profession. It has been a great pleasure to serve under two understanding superiors. The Chief and Deputy have always been very approachable and their ability to listen and offer suggestions throughout the ranks are truly strengths of these two individuals. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through this job.”
Plympton is not the only Norfolk police officer choosing to retire. Lieutenant Paul Murphy, who was not available to interview, is also retiring from the force after a long career. Plympton noted of Murphy, “I really want to congratulate Lieutenant Paul Murphy, a stand up police officer and wonderful person.”
The veteran police officer noted that he will miss the camaraderie of the job. “I’m very thankful for the officers I’ve worked with through the years,” he said.
In reflecting on why he chose to retire now, Plympton said, “While I could continue to work till I am 65, I wanted time to appreciate the finer things in life. For me, that’s anything to do with sports, getting to ball games when I can, traveling, and visiting ball parks across the country. I am unencumbered with family, so my schedule is my own.”
Plympton has no family members who were policemen, and actually hoped to teach physical education after he graduated from college, but in the mid-1980s, teaching positions were scarce, and he found a part-time position on the Plainville Police Department in 1983. He grew up in Plainville and hoped to serve in his hometown. The Plainville police chief at the time, Walter Sandland, drew praise from Plympton for his forward thinking and for being ahead of the curve in his embrace of technology to aid policing efforts. Plympton also noted his gratitude simply because, “Walter took a chance on me and gave me my start in the policing field.”
When a full time position opened on the Norfolk Police Department in 1985, Plympton came to town and never looked back. Well-known because of his work in the schools, Plympton has served as the School Resource Officer and the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer. “I found a position where I liked what I was doing, working in the schools, and stuck with it,” he said.
“It’s great to see how many students I’ve worked with and have grown up and done well,” he reflected. “I have gotten to know almost all the students in the schools through this job, and it’s great to see how they are doing. It’s also been one of the hardest things, when I’ve gone out on a call and realized that I knew the person back when they were growing up in the Norfolk schools. Most of the kids have gone on to do really well, and I tell my DARE students that my goal for them is that they become productive members of the community.”
In this way, Plympton has modeled what he hoped for his students. “Community policing is all about giving back to the community,” he noted.
Plympton reflected on how the job has changed over the years, and perhaps the biggest change he noted is that technology has become an important tool in police enforcement.
“It used to take 12-15 minutes for us to run a plate during a traffic stop in the past,” he noted, “but now I can get the needed information in a matter of seconds.” He continued, “I also use technology in the classroom, using ‘smart boards’ rather than chalk boards to share information with my classes.”
In fact, much of Plympton’s life will not change that much after retirement, since he has chosen to retain his role as the DARE officer and his work in the schools. But it will be on his schedule now, not anyone else’s.
He also plans to continue running the DARE summer camp sessions that he offers to kids in the community, with the help of King Philip High School students as counselors, as well as additional teachers from King Philip High School. It turns out that Plympton’s dreams of being a Physical Education teacher have been realized, maybe not as he thought they might be, but perhaps in a manner even more meaningful than he ever could have imagined.
Best of luck on your retirement, and as you set your own schedule in the coming days, Officer Plympton!