The best way to describe John Duyssen's decision to retire after 21 years as a deputy sheriff is, it's just time.
That's what he said in an interview Friday, his last day of duty, "It's time."
In law enforcement, you're always on the edge, more so in today's environment. The death of his friend and fellow Le Royan Frank Bordonaro weighed on Duyssen, a father to five adopted children. As a member of the crash management team, he's seen enough mangled and battered bodies. The son and brother of farmers, he has his own spread on Bater Road to run. The Le Roy School District can use him as a bus driver and that seems like a good route to take at this juncture in his life.
It's just time.
"I've had a great career," Duyssen said. "I'm leaving happy. I'm not disgruntled. I'm at the top of my game. The Sheriff just gave me an awesome award here the other day. That was kind of cool because it was almost like a career wrapper. "
The best part of the job, Duyssen said, was seeing justice work. He takes a lot of satisfaction in the confessions he's obtained and the convictions of people who did bad things to his friends and neighbors.
Mostly working the east side of the county, he gave his personal cell phone number out to hundreds of people. They called him with their complaints and when appropriate he opened cases.
One such case was a series of thefts of timber from several property owners in the Le Roy area in 2010.
The investigation took more than a year. It involved several victims, including older residents and farmers and landowners who simply enjoyed the park-like settings of their property.
Duyssen made arrests and defendants eventually entered guilty pleas.
"When you work a case hard and you see it to the end, and see the people who were stolen from, defrauded, to see them get justice, is my biggest thing," Duyssen said.
Law enforcement, however, isn't without its dangers. Living on the edge takes its toll, even physically, Duyssen said.
"You don't know what you're pulling up on," Duyssen said. "Last year when that one guy attacked us in Pavilion, we didn't know what to expect. He was huge. I had a recruit with me, brand new, out of the academy, and he came right at us. We won, but when you've got a guy that has arms that big around and he's way bigger than me and you're not prepared for it, the door comes open and he comes flying at you, yeah, you're adrenaline goes through an adrenaline rush."
One of Duyssen's duties the past several years was leading the investigations on many fatal accidents. It's a matter of science and mathematics to reconstruct a scene, but you're also dealing with the human costs, the dead bodies and their friends and relatives.
"I can remember, as I drive around the county and see the crosses, the memorials from fatal accidents," Duyssen said. "All the guys who have to work these cases, the community doesn't know the carnage that a deputy, trooper, police officer sees throughout 20 some years. You can remember smells, sights, sounds, and you can relive that.
"So I know what PTSD is all about. In the crash world, to use the science and the evidence and translate that to reconstruct a scene, to see that those who are physically wrong, if it's a DWI manslaughter case, and justice serves, there's nothing better."
Never, Duyssen said, are these accidents really accidents.
"An accident is if you or I spill our coffee or milk," Duyssen said. "A car crash is either reckless, careless or negligent."
Drugs, drink, not enough sleep, speed, distracted driving, are all choices.
"I've seen some of these little kids tear me up," Duyssen said. "You just say, 'why?' and that's why it's time. I've seen enough. I've done enough. It's time for another, younger guy to take over."
A decade ago, Duyssen received the Carl Drexler Award, one of the highest honors in the state for a deputy sheriff for exceptional career achievements and conscientious devotion to duty. Both Duyssen and Sheriff Gary Maha mentioned at the awards ceremony memorable moments in the deputy's career.
One of the things that made Duyssen an exception deputy, Maha said, was his ability to relate to people. He was so good at getting suspects to talk and even confess, that Maha said he would have made a great detective.
"He had a lot of common sense and sometimes that makes a big difference in an officer," Maha said.
Yup, Duyssen, said, he could always talk with people.
"Law enforcement doesn't mean you have to be the biggest Hulk Hogan guy to enforce the law," Duyssen said. "I'm definitely not the biggest guy. My biggest asset is talking with people and solving things that way. If you treat people nice, they reciprocate I think, and they'll tell you want they did wrong. How do we get confessions? By treating people the right way. You know that hard-ass cop stuff just doesn't work."
More than once, Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster would remind him, "Just go out and talk, John," Duyssen said. "Talk to them."
"So, you head back out, things start rolling and next thing you know, you hand them a pen and a piece of paper and tell them, 'why don't you just tell me what happened?' " Duyssen said. He smiled, mimicked writing on a piece of paper, and added, "Five pages was the last one."
John and his wife, Jessica, decided to go the adoption route to start a family, and one adopted son encouraged them to try a second, then a third and finally a fourth and fifth.
They are Jonah, 17, Colt, 17, Julian, 13, Miranda, 6, and Jaden, 5.
All are homeschooled, though Jonah and Colt started at Le Roy High School this year, their senior year. Jonah is playing his first year of varsity basketball and will attend Bible Baptist College in Scranton, Pa., next year, where he plans to continue pursuing his hoop dreams. Colt is a wrestler and soccer player.
With more time for the farm, Jonah might get that second hog barn he wants and John will add some beef cattle. They'll continue to grow and sell their famous strawberries and raspberries.
And John will drive a school bus, working a morning shift, coming home to do chores and then heading back to the bus garage to start a round of afternoon drop-offs.
That's how John Duyssen will spend his time.
At shift change Friday afternoon, Sheriff Gary Maha presented John Duyssen with a Certificate of Appreciation and a keepsake retired deputy badge and ID.
Deputy John Duyssen signs off as GS-33 for the last time.