Tony Tague looks back on 24 years as Muskegon County's top lawman

6:38 PM, Dec 12, 2012   |    comments
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Muskegon Co. Prosecutor Tony Tague

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Tony Tague has been working as a prosecutor for 30 years -- and all but two of them in Muskegon County -- but at the end of 2012, he's giving up that part of his career.

Tague decided earlier this year not to run for reelection as Muskegon County Prosecutor, an office he was first elected to in 1988.

From his office at the county's Hall of Justice, Tague can look across the city of Muskegon.  Now, he's looking back on three decades serving this community.

"On difficult days I can look over and see public service as a privilege," he says.  "It is humbling that voters would elect me six times."

Tague's has dealt with almost every crime imaginable during his time as the county's top prosecutor -- from simple breaking-and-entering cases to more than 200 homicides.  In fact, when he drives around the county he can vividly remember all of the gruesome crime scenes he's visited.

"That makes your realize the tremendous responsibility that is put on you as a prosecutor," he says.

Tague is the son of a Grand Haven police officer. His career as a prosecutor started 30 years ago in New York City, where he worked for the Manhattan district attorney.  In 1984, he returned to the lakeshore, taking a job in Muskegon County.  He was first elected county prosecutor in 1988.

"I hit almost the entire county going door to door," he remembers.

After taking office, he began using local television as a way to connect county residents to the decisions he made.

"Being elected over and over, I think people appreciated knowing what is going on downtown," he says.

Tague has also learned how to connect with witnesses to crimes -- especially the younger ones.  He gives stuffed animals to young children who must give statements or testify in court cases.

"On the cape, it says, 'I am a courtroom tiger with Tony Tague'," he says, holding up one of the stuffed toys.

Tague says his decisions have always been based on two key criteria -- "Doing what in my opinion what was best for victim and best for community."

The prosecutor says he still loves the job, but is ready to move on. 

"I feel just as passionate today as I did 24 years ago, in terms of representing victims," Tague says.  "I feel [stepping down] is the right thing to do at this point."

Tague is not leaving the law behind.  He will now work as a criminal defense attorney in West Michigan.  He will also continue in his other role as restauranteur -- he's part-owner of "Two Tonys" in Spring Lake Township.

The new Muskegon County Prosecutor, D.J. Hilson, will be sworn into office on January 3.

Reported by Jon Mills in Muskegon

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