When you walk through the doors of the UMB Police Station at 222 N. Pine St., you may be greeted by the friendly face of Officer William Groh, who celebrated his 53rd year anniversary as a University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) employee on the morning of Thursday, June 8. To commemorate the occasion, friends and colleagues gathered in the Pine Street Annex lobby to celebrate Groh’s tenure with cake and congratulations.
UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, made a surprise appearance just before the party began, offering congratulations and words of praise for the longtime employee. “I want to salute you for your years of loyal service to the University,” Perman said, shaking Groh’s hand. “Gentlemen like you say a lot about our institution. If someone chooses to start and build his career here, it really speaks volumes about us and about you. I’m glad I got to meet you.”
Groh’s career at UMB began when he was hired as a part-time security officer in 1964. “For perspective, when he [Groh] started working here, [Lyndon B.] Johnson was president,” said Lt. Erik Pecha, security shift commander for the UMB Police Force.
Groh’s temporary position expanded into a long-lasting and rewarding career. In July of 1966, he became a member of the University’s first police department. “I started working at the University because I wanted to go back to school, but I never did end up going back because I loved it here,” Groh said with a laugh. “When I was a child I always wanted to be a police officer, so this job has really been a dream come true.”
He worked as a University police officer for 33 years before retiring in 1999. Shortly after his retirement, he was brought back as a contractual security officer — the position he retains to this day.
When asked why he returned to UMB after his “retirement,” Groh cited the strong bonds he has formed with his colleagues. “I wanted to be around the people,” he said. “When I’m here, I’m around people I understand: cops. I understand how they think, how they act. We’ve had some great times here.”
That includes his 53rd anniversary party. A crowd of around 40 friends and colleagues gathered into the small Pine Street Annex lobby for the celebration, applauding as Groh cut his anniversary cake.
Friendship and camaraderie aren’t the only factors that tie Groh to UMB. In a sense, Groh has grown up with the University. It has been a place of milestones — even outside his public safety career. “I met my wife here and I said goodbye to her here,” he said.
Though Groh enjoys his post as a security officer, he still yearns for his time as a member of the UMB Police Force. “I still get the rush from the crackle over the radio from emergency calls. I miss it sometimes,” he said. “It’s hard to go from having a badge of gold to a badge of silver, but it’s a path that every police officer takes in their careers.”
Perman said he hoped Groh would remain on the UMB team for “many more years.”
With a smile, Groh said the president’s prediction could be accurate. “I’ll probably be here until they take me out in a body bag,” he joked.