Featured photo: Greg ‘Big Dog’ Campbell with sister-in-law Antoinette Chapman, left and wife Natlean, right
Written by L. M. Land with Jowanne Carrigan
Photos by L. M. Land
Gregory “Big Dog” Campbell has retired for the final time after 50 years in law enforcement. On January 27, 2023, family, friends and co-workers spanning his entire career in law enforcement came to celebrate and wish him the best retirement a man can have.
Jimmy Edwards, who has worked with Campbell in three different posts, gave a moving speech about his respect for Campbell.
“No matter where I go, this man has been in my life,” Edwards said “He is a blessing. I wish him the best, and we love him”.
Jowanne Carrigan also worked with Campbell and Edwards at several different posts, and sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” the State Police theme song, to express how she felt about working with Campbell.
“Greg is special to all of us,” his sister-in-law Antoinette Campbell explained.
It was obvious that everyone in the room had great respect and love for ‘Big Dog’
Campbell was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a row house neighborhood. His mother died when he was 1 year old, and he was raised by his father, grandmother and all the neighbor ladies who watched out for him.
“It was like a tribe,” Campbell explained. “They kept me on the right path.”
Campbell started working when he was 12. In 1971, he went to the University of Detroit, where he joined the Air force ROTC and become a member of Omega Psi Phi. His minor was in criminal justice. Flint’s Lawrence Moon was a fellow student.
Campbell was hired by the Michigan State Police in 1978, at a time that minority recruitment was the focus of hiring. He was first stationed in Flint where he worked at Atherton Terrace. Edwards was there too, working burglary, and Carrigan was working homicide.
Campbell jointed the Flint Police Athletic League and volunteered at the after-school programs.
When then Mayor Coleman Young wanted more minority officers in Detroit, Campbell was transferred to Detroit in 1981. He explained that there were many archaic rules with the State Police at the time, and they even interviewed his wife before he was given the job. Since his family was in Flint, he drove back and forth to Detroit until he had a bad accident in snowy weather in 1982. He then moved to Detroit and stayed until 1985, when he was transferred to Bridgeport.
From 1992 through 2003, he came back to the Flint Post and retired from there. He then became Sgt. in Arms in Lansing for three years. The long drive became tiring, so he next worked for 10 years as shift supervisor for Campus Safety at Baker College in Flint. He was reunited with Edwards and Carrigan here. In 2013, Baker shut down in Flint.
Not ready to retire quite yet, another old friend, Wendell Quinn, recommended Campbell to Hurley Hospital as a public safety officer. Campbell explained that due to the nature of Hurley being a trauma center and city hospital, the job was only one step below being a police officer. Everything he missed about being a state trooper happened in his experience at Hurley.
Campbell said he was also touched by how many Hurley visitors remembered him from 20 years before. Many expressed their gratitude for his intervention in their lives and told how he influenced them to fix their lives.
“They remembered you for who you are, your soul, your spirit,” explained Natlean Campbell to her husband.
Now, at age 68, ‘Big Dog’ is really retired. He was inspired to truly retire by the advice of two friends who were close to him. Both recommended not waiting until 70 for Social Security payments like they did. Both men died very soon after retirement at 70. Campbell also knew 20 State Police retirees and/or their spouses who died of COVID.
When asked what he was going to do next, Campbell said “Time for me to live a little and have some fun.”
He loves sports and plans to watch local area ball games. He “wants to sit, eat his popcorn and enjoy the game.” Further pleasure comes from the fact that most of the coaches were kids he impacted years ago. He also plans to spend time with his nieces and nephews, and continue work with the Genesee County Sherriff Department Security Ministry at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
Campbell’s wife, Natlean Campbell, said that she will “make sure he is retired this time”.
Thank you for your service, ‘Big Dog.’