By Michael Pineda
For more than a quarter-century, Matthew Fairchild’s profession was to serve and protect the citizens of Yukon.
Tuesday afternoon, Fairchild announced he was ready to begin a new stage in his life.
In a packed room filled with friends and family, Fairchild retired as a major in the Yukon Police Department. Fairchild said he had not planned to retire, but in recent weeks he had made the decision to focus on other aspects of his life.
“Retiring was a decision I suddenly made only just a few weeks ago,” he said. “Up until that point, in fact I even told chief and deputy chief that I planned on doing another two and a half years. A lot of things have changed, and I have convinced myself that it is just time now.”
Fairchild said he wanted to spend more time with his wife Judy and travel. He wants to see his grandchildren grow up and do things while he is still young. Fairchild also said he wants to become more involved in his church.
“The only thing that almost talked me out of it, is many of you all right here,” Fairchild told his fellow officers. “That is what I am going to miss, the people that I work with.”
Police Chief John Corn said Fairchild had served 27 years with the department, which is an uncommon achievement. He described it as astounding.
“He is to be commended for that,” Corn said. “We as the city are very appreciative of that.”
City Manager Tammy Kretchmar also attended the retirement reception, along with many other city staff. She read a citation, which paid tribute to Fairchild’s contributions and accomplishments throughout his career.
Fairchild was a defensive tactics instructor, a member and instructor of the bicycle team, a field training officer and member of the swiftwater rescue team. Kretchmar highlighted Fairchild’s contribution and volunteer work for Special Olympics. Fairchild used to camp out on top of the grain mill to raise funds for Special Olympics and was named the Oklahoma State Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year this year.
Kretchmar said Fairchild won multiple awards for saving lives over the course of his career and said the city offered its sincere thanks and heartiest congratulations.
Fairchild took a stroll down memory lane, recalling how he attended the University of Central Oklahoma with the intention of pursuing a degree in accounting with a goal of joining the FBI. After his first test, Fairchild said he reconsidered his career path.
“I got to thinking about what else I wanted to do,” Fairchild said. “I was like, well, if I am not going to do what my mom did, I guess I will do what my dad did. So I decided I was going to start studying criminal justice. I went on to get my criminal justice degree.”
Fairchild’s father, Monte Fairchild, served with the Oklahoma City Police Department.
During Fairchild’s senior year, it was time to do an internship and he thought what better place than where he was raised and graduated from. He approached Chief James Huffman who agreed to take him on and set him up with Bill Bullard.
“I think they were trying to punish him,” Fairchild joked.
During that period, Fairchild had the opportunity to experience life as an officer. For all that Bullard showed him, it was some advice that would have the biggest impact on his life.
“During my time with Bill, the police department was hiring,” Fairchild said. “I was barely 21 years old. In my mind, I really did not think I was ready to be a police officer. I was still a kid in my mind. I planned on graduating from college and going to the military. That was what my plans were.”
Bullard advised Fairchild he should interview for the job and gain the experience of going through the process. Fairchild did not expect to get the job and did not know if he even wanted it. He applied and got the job, which changed his life.
Fairchild shared stories of qualifying with a pistol at academy, his first day of field training and first traffic stop. He talked about working nights and how his mother Karen Fairchild would pray for him and send him messages late at night, letting him know she was thinking about him. When Matthew Fairchild reached 20 years of service, he remembered she wanted him to retire but he opted to continue his service. He would surpass the 22 years his father served as a peace officer.
“Dad, despite the fact you didn’t want me to become a police officer and tried to talk me out of it, you were always supportive,” Fairchild said. “I learned so much about being a police officer from you. Your career provided me with the example an officer could ever have. I had the opportunity to meet so many officers that you worked with over the years. And every one of them spoke so highly of you, your career and your accomplishments as a police officer. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that throughout my career.
They talked about how good a homicide detective you were, how you could get anyone to confess to just about anything. So, thank you dad for being a great example. I love you.”
Fairchild was presented with a shadowbox and his service revolver. Major Zach Roberson also presented Fairchild with keepsake. Judy Fairchild received a bouquet of flowers from the department and a Hobby Lobby gift card in consideration of her support. Matt Fairchild said that Judy was his biggest fan and supported him throughout the process.
“She just wanted me to be happy,” he said.
Fairchild also said that he had worked with some of the best officers and personnel during his time with Yukon and was thankful for the experience.
“I work for a great city,” he said. “I am very grateful to the city of Yukon. Everything you have given to me. Everything the city has given to me, the ability to have a wonderful life and I am grateful for it.”
The job itself provided memories that Fairchild said have helped shape him. With a reception area that was standing room only on three sides, Fairchild said it meant so much to have a packed room to wish him well in retirement.
Said there are memories that shaped him.
“I love everyone of you all for being here,” he said. “Thank you, it means so much to me. I feel loved right now, appreciate it. There are a lot of people that traveled a long way to be here. Thank you for everything.”