May 5—Gail Altenburger did not have a badge or patrol streets, but she still made an impact on the Oakmont Police Department.
"I feel like my job here was more than just doing the records," Altenburger said Tuesday night after her retirement recognition at council's meeting. "It was helping people when they came in just the same way the officers did. Anyone who's working in a police department or law enforcement field right now has a tough job. There's a lot of angry people, and a lot of people who need a little bit of compassion."
She joined the borough force as a secretary and records manager in 1992. She worked for four chiefs: Robert Moyer, Bob Springer, David DiSanti, and current chief, Michael Ford.
"She's made my job much easier during the transition to chief," said Ford, who presented Altenburger with a glass, diamond-shaped plaque. "I know if the other chiefs were here, they would say the same thing: You kept the place running perfect as far as the paperwork."
Altenburger handled reports, orders, filings, assisted with various projects and had many more responsibilities within the department.
"She was very good, very efficient and knowledgeable," Ford said.
Linda Johnson took over as secretary in April.
Altenburger, 71, is moving from Oakmont to Milltown, Del. Her official retirement date and move into her new home is May 14.
"It was an honor working with a group of people that are as talented as this police department has been," she said. "The officers do a very hard job, and they do it very well. It's not as easy as people think it is.
"I've watched them go through the, 'We all love the police' to 'We all hate the police' and back and forth. Throughout it all, they stayed professional, and they followed the compass and ran the course. I will miss all of them."
She received a round of applause and thanks from borough officials.
"Enjoy every moment of your retirement," council President Patricia Friday said.
Altenburger also sang for more than 20 years in the Oakmont Lions Club's Lions Show, a variety show to raise money and awareness for the visually impaired.
She hopes to find similar groups in Delaware and continue those efforts.
"You do what you can where you can," Altenburger said. "There's so much to be done in the world."
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .