CAMDEN, Maine — There will soon be a new police chief in town.
Lt. Randy Gagne was promoted Tuesday to replace the retiring head of the police department, effective Jan. 1, 2011.
Gagne “has been the lieutenant for eight and a half years. He has almost 22 years in this department,” said town manager Roberta Smith. “He is extremely dedicated to the department. He is an excellent and obvious choice, and he is highly recommended by the current chief.”
Police Chief Phil Roberts, who is retiring, has already sold his house in Lincolnville, packed up and bought an RV.
The 61-year-old Roberts has been with the Camden Police Department since 1980 and has worked as the chief for the past 10 years.
“I very much appreciate the time I’ve spent here,” he said. “When I came here it was a big financial cut for me in pay, but money isn’t everything. I’m glad I made the move. It’s a good community. Good people.”
Roberts said he came into the role in May 2000 with three objectives: to move the Police Department out of the Opera House, which he said made for cramped quarters at the time; to restore the public’s faith in the department; and lastly to increase training for officers. He accomplished each of those goals he said.
Despite that success, Roberts said he is most proud of his time working in the D.A.R.E. program, which helped him build strong relationships in the community. “I feel it’s the best thing I ever did,” he said.
Roberts said he would like to still have a police officer in the schools, but budgets are tight.
“With budgets these days I’m hanging on to what I have, never mind asking for more,” he said.
Budgets will be one of the challenges Roberts’ replacement will face. Another will be staffing. Military deployments of some Camden officers often result in the department not being fully staffed.
Roberts said the job taught him patience he didn’t have before.
“You look back on things with a little more appreciation,” he said. “I’ve learned people do things in their own way. One thing I’ve learned is to let [officers] do what they’re good at and they enjoy doing.”
Roberts leaves his post on Dec. 31 and isn’t exactly sure what’s ahead.
“We sold our house and are packing and hitting the road. We bought an RV and will go wherever the road takes us,” he said about himself and his wife. “We have purposely not made plans. I’ve had 36 years of being on a schedule. I’m looking forward to not having a schedule.”