After a successful career as a school resource officer for Wilton public schools, Diane MacLean is swapping out her winter parka for shorts and sunglasses.

MacLean hung up her badge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, retiring from the Wilton Police Department after 19 years of service, five of those as the second SRO for Wilton schools.

MacLean and her family are moving to the Phoenix, Ariz., area, where her husband is starting a new job in the power energy field.

“It was a great opportunity for him. But it’s not how I would have planned it,” she said.

When her husband discussed the details of his new job, he initially intended to move right away, and have his wife and two daughters join him later, after daughter Faith, a senior at Joel Barlow High School, completes her senior year in spring 2020.

But Faith was eager to move out west, where she intends to go to college. The couple’s other daughter, Anna, a makeup artist, was also ready to make the move. “I planned to retire at the end of the school year, but the kids fell in love with the Phoenix area, so we decided to go now,” MacLean said.

MacLean, 54, grew up in Pelham Manor in Westchester in a law enforcement oriented family. After studying psychology at the College of New Rochelle, she worked for a time as a loss prevention officer before deciding to become a police officer.

She spent her entire 19-year law enforcement career with the Wilton Police Department, working her way up from patrol officer to school resource officer.

In 2014, MacLean was selected as a law enforcement representative to Connecticut’s Special Olympics Program. She carried the torch in the final leg of the run before the opening ceremony at the Special Olympics USA games in New Jersey.

MacLean also raised money for Special Olympics, participating in events such as Tip-a-Cop and Over the Edge, in which she rappelled down the side of Mohegan Sun casino.

In March, the Wilton Police Department named her Community Officer of the Year.

MacLean said she will miss Wilton public schools, where she worked with middleschoolers and younger students, and taught classes on internet safety, bullying on social media, cyber bullying, drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

MacLean enjoyed building bonds with children. “I hope the students realized that police officers are not just there for negative things. I hope they know we are a partner and offer support. I hope they know they can come to us to bounce things off of us. We can help them navigate things,” she said.

The advent of social media has brought a whole different scope of knowledge and growing for the younger generation, she said. “It is difficult for parents to realize all the things children are exposed to on social media,” she said.

When she moves to Arizona, she plans to spend time “as a mom” for a bit. But eventually, she knows she’ll do more. “I’m not one to sit and do a bunch of nothing,” she said.

True to her word, MacLean attended the police academy when her first daughter was five months old and she had her second daughter after becoming a police officer.

Now she’s thinking about teaching some of the things she has learned or working at something involving security.

Retirement will also give her more time to enjoy her hobbies. An avid reader, she also likes to do crafts, attend theater, and explore things with her family on day trips. “I like to see the world through the eyes of a kid,” she said.

In addition to the school system, MacLean said she is also going to miss the Wilton community. “I have always looked at Wilton like it is my own hometown. I feel the residents are my neighbors. I created a lot of bonds with people personally and professionally and am blessed to have had a career with this town. I love Wilton. I worked with great officers and staff at the schools. My success is a result of the town I am fortunate enough to work in,” she said.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com