BROOKSVILLE — Col. Michael Maurer, chief deputy for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, hung up his badge last month to begin his retirement and received kudos for his service and his genuine spirit.
"The go-to guy, no matter what I called him for.'' That’s how County Commissioner Wayne Dukes described Maurer at the Commission’s Dec. 17 meeting.
Commissioner John Allocco said he called Maurer two or three times a week, sometimes over challenging county issues. "He was always cordial,'' Allocco said, even when he didn’t need to be.
"He’s got like 350 years of service in this county,'' joked Commission Chairman Jeff Holcomb.
"It’s kind of bittersweet, to be honest,'' Maurer said. “It’s been a great place to work, while there have been challenges and disappointments with some cases we haven’t been able to solve. But I’ve enjoyed it, and the people of Hernando County have been great.''
County attorney Garth Coller remembered going through the Leadership Hernando class in 2000 with Maurer, saying "we were the two bad boys on the bus.'' But he called Maurer "a genuinely good guy. He’s a nice man, and we’re going to miss him terribly.''
Some had hoped that Maurer would succeed his former boss, Sheriff Richard Nugent, into the top job in 2010. He was praised by Sheriff Al Nienhuis, the man who got that job and became Maurer’s boss.
"It is difficult for me, with the space allotted, to express my appreciation for Mike’s service to Hernando County,'' Nienhuis said. "He wore a uniform, serving his country or his community, for about four decades. He, almost perfectly, has been able to balance compassion with justice.''
Maurer’s personality made him ideal for the job, Nienhuis said, adding that "Mike is someone who can provide insight into the most difficult law enforcement or organizational issues. He could then be counted on to get the issue resolved. His extreme work ethic, his instinct and his intelligence will be missed here at the Sheriff’s Office.''
Maurer was in law enforcement in Maine before coming to the area to work a case. Soon, he was leaving his snow shovel behind for sunscreen.
Maurer joined the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office in 1988 and worked his way through the ranks. He supervised departments ranging from criminal investigation to vice and narcotics and the office of professional standards. His record shows commendations and details about how he worked on difficult and sensitive law enforcement situations.
He is a 2003 graduate of the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia, and served as a reserve special agent with the U.S. Coast Guard’s investigative services.
Maurer said he will miss the people he has worked with and for, but is satisfied as he looks back at his career.
"They say you should leave a place better than when you came,'' he said. "I think that’s been done.''