DENISON, Texas (KTEN) — Mike Eppler is well-known in Grayson County. But after almost 45 years of making a huge impact in law enforcement, he's decided to hang up his badge.

"I just want to thank everyone for an awesome time over the past 31-1/2 years," he said. "I want to start out by thanking our God that he let me do this, and brought so many wonderful people into my life."

Denison Police Department Lt. Mike Eppler knew he wanted to become a police officer when he was a teenager and got pulled over with his friends.

"He comes back a few minutes later and said, 'Well, we're all going to jail.' And we were all like, 'Oh my God!' And he said, 'No, I'm just kidding; but don't let me catch you outside of your curfew again,'" Eppler recalled. "I thought, 'I want to be on their side.'"

His favorite memory while working in law enforcement?

"We have the great program here for 22 years in the middle school, and that builds relationships with kids that they not normally would have," Eppler said.

And there have been been plenty of laughs along the way.

"We had a person who came in the store wearing pink panties, and the clerk started throwing cans of Spam at this guy and ran him off," Eppler said. "He was dubbed the 'Pink Panty Bandit.'"

His kindness and positive attitude will be missed around police headquarters.

"You don't replace somebody like Mike," said Chief Mike Gudgel. "We hope to always hire the next Mike, and look forward to the future; but I don't know that we will ever get that opportunity again.

Lt. Eppler has this simple advice to law enforcement newcomers:

"Treat people like you would want to be treated," he said.