Assistant Chief Matt Markon wrapped up a 29-year career with the Superior Police Department April 24.
Growing up in Maple, Markon said he always wanted to be a police officer. There have been ups and downs in his career, as well as a few high-speed chases, but he said it’s been rewarding.
“It’s not about the arrests or the citations. It really, really is about helping people,” Markon said. “I remember saying that in my first interview when I got hired. It’s been the helping people part of this job that makes me look back and go ‘This really was a great career.’”
Sworn in on Jan. 11, 1991, Markon rose up the ranks from patrol officer to assistant chief, serving as a field training officer, patrol sergeant, traffic sergeant and patrol captain on the way. He tried his hand as a detective after four years with the department. Four weeks later, he went back to patrol.
“I missed my squad car. I missed training new officers,” he said. “I went back to patrol, and I’ve really been there since in the majority of the work I’ve done.”
Chief Nicholas Alexander called Markon dedicated and reliable, an excellent ambassador for the law enforcement profession.
“Some people go out of their way to always be a constant professional, to raise the bar for our profession, to honor the badge, and I truly think Matt did an outstanding job of that,” Alexander said.
Markon was a valuable resource and had a wealth of knowledge that younger officers appreciated.
“He has been ... the go-to person for a lot of things,” said SPD’s new Assistant Chief John Kiel. “He’s been very valuable in that aspect.”
His impact on the department runs deep, from the way crash reports are done to the officers who write them.
“Matt was an FTO (field training officer) for a long time,” Alexander said. “He’s trained probably a couple generations of us here in terms of new officers.”
That includes the chief.
“When I first started, my phase one or the first person that I worked with as my field trainer was Matt,” Alexander said.
The two have risen up the ranks together, even trading reports back and forth for proofreading when they worked opposite one another as night sergeants.
Markon graduated from Northwestern High School in 1985 and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Hoping to stay in the area, he turned down a job offer from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. A week later he was offered a job with SPD. He was sworn in with Tom Dalbec and Chris Hoyt, who both later made the move to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Markon’s first six weeks were spent with Officer Brian McDonough working Superior’s North End neighborhood.
“Early 90s North End was busy any night of the week. It was bar fights and working with guys like Berchild who worked in the adjoining area and a few of the younger officers working the night shift,” he said.
Markon has served under five chiefs: E. Doyle Barker, Mark Diamond, Floyd Peters, Charles LaGesse and Alexander. He remembers big events like the Dan’s Feed Bin fire, the Husky Refinery fire and fatal traffic accidents. And he recalled smaller moments — traffic duty in a snowstorm, giving a thumbs up to the driver of a sweet Mustang while on duty at the Dragon Boat Festival, watching over the city as it slept on night patrol.
“Matt’s going to be missed because he’s a great resource and he’s a good person,” said Kiel, a 21-year veteran of the department. “I consider him a good friend of mine and so moving forward, those are shoes that, you just can’t fill those.”
Woodwork projects, travel and a possible part-time gig working as a substitute teacher for the Maple School District are on Markon’s retirement to-do list. He and wife, Lynda, live in the town of Rice Lake, Minnesota, and have three grown sons.
“I’m looking forward to just having time to get to all those projects that everyone puts off until they have more time to do them,” Markon said.
He’s leaving the department with some really good friendships.
“It really has been an honor to be a police officer in this city. I was born in this city, my folks grew up here,” Markon said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, what might have been a big department party last week was reduced to balloons in Markon’s office, a bulletin board full of photos and clippings, and individual goodbyes.
“I’m glad I was there to help, but now I’m going to quietly get out of the picture,” Markon said. “I’ll leave here knowing the department is in good hands, with the promotion of Assistant Chief Kiel and the younger officers that we’ve hired and I’ve had at least a hand in getting them here, getting them started.”
"It’s a well-deserved retirement. Myself and the rest of the department wish him the best as he enters this new chapter of life and hope that he doesn't become a stranger, either," Alexander said.