After 40 years of police work, an RCMP officer in Sussex will hand in his uniform and gun on Friday.

Cpl. Graham Milner is retiring after a long career in policing — most of which was spent in the town. He first came to Sussex in 1976, back when it was a regional force, and was its deputy chief before the RCMP took over.

Milner says he always wanted to be a police officer.

"I started when I was 19 years old and I've been policing ever since," he said. "And for me to stop, just like that, it's going to be quite an adjustment I think."

Milner says some terrible, but significant moments stand out when he looks back on his career, including a 2001 bus crash that killed four children who were on their way from Massachusetts to Halifax.

Cpl. Graham Milner

Cpl. Graham Milner says he has witnessed a lot of change in policing, since he first started out at 19 years old. (CBC)

"I was the first officer on the scene and it was, the thing that stuck out to me the most was all of the children that were in the bus had already been evacuated, and they were sitting on the median. And there was no sound," said Milner.

"There was no sound when I arrived. And I asked the kids how many were hurt, and about three quarters of them put their hands up."

Milner says he also witnessed a lot of changes in policing during his years of service.

"How we do our policing now, we have to do it smarter, community policing was a big idea in the 1980s and nineties. We still try to maintain that persona … but when we’re dealing with restricted budgets we’re dealing with how we're going to do the job," he said.

"The way we do the job, we have to do it smarter,  we have to make sure we can do it in what our confinement is."

Milner expects his last day on the job will be emotional.

"Forty years of policing I've always worn a gun. I've never had the occasion to actually use it in defence of anybody, or have to shoot anybody," he said. "However it's been part of my equipment and I'm going to feel naked without it I'm sure.

"If I see somebody and I think they look suspicious I'll probably have the detachment on speed dial in my phone. It's just one of those things that's ingrained in me. I mean, that's all I am."

Sussex RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Dale Morgan says 40 years is a benchmark few officers reach. Morgan says he is certain Milner will remain an asset to the force.

"He can be retired, but he's not gone. He's going to remain a resource here and I guarantee you he'll remain a go-to person here," said Morgan.

Milner's history with the police force hasn't gone unnoticed by his fellow officers, including Cst. James Gass.

"These people [in the town] have no idea the policing that he does, how efficient he was," said Gass.

"In my mind I think Graham is a legend."