SUTTONS BAY — Steve Morgan retired as undersheriff for Leelanau County after eight years on the job, but four decades of service in law enforcement.
It’s the culmination of four decades of public service working as a police officer, K-9 handler, department administrator and finally, undersheriff for Lower Michigan’s pinky finger county.
“The people have big hearts and it’s a real friendly environment out here,” Morgan said.
The undersheriff retired this month and said he intends to spend more time with his five grandsons, as well as hunting and fishing — favored pastimes.
Morgan, during his years as undersheriff, managed the Facebook page for the sheriff, as well as the budget and grant-writing efforts. He also started both the prescription drug take-back and K-9 programs for the Leelanau County sheriff.
Morgan graduated from St. Francis and Northwestern Michigan College before Ferris State University. His first job as a law enforcement officer was in Iowa, though he returned to Michigan as a township police officer near Okemos.
Eventually Morgan came to the Traverse City Police Department where he spent more than 25 years. First he worked as a patrol officer and then a K-9 handler for his beloved dog Astor, a Dutch-trained German Shepherd.
Morgan was promoted to sergeant in May 1998 after Dennis Finch was shot and killed during a standoff, the only Traverse City police officer to die in the line of duty.
“It certainly wasn’t the way I wanted that to happen,” Morgan said. “Dennis was my sergeant on midnights.”
By 2003, Morgan was promoted to captain, a post he occupied until 2012 when he retired from the city police department.
Finally, he said the last eight years he worked as undersheriff.
“The work is similar but the environment is totally different,” Morgan said.
Sheriff Mike Borkovich said he first grew to know Morgan when he was a city police captain and the sheriff worked as a conservation officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Morgan had a reputation as an excellent dog handler and a helpful liaison with the annual National Cherry Festival, the sheriff said.
“I knew that he was a good family man with good morals,” Borkovich said.
The sheriff said Morgan served as his “go-to guy” for the last eight years, always able to quickly offer up budget analysis, financial figures and good advice regarding equipment maintenance and upgrades, such as with the department’s fleet of patrol vehicles.
“He was a very effective administrator,” Borkovich said. “Invaluable.”
Morgan lives in Leelanau County with his wife of 39 years, Colleen, also a St. Francis graduate.