CAMDEN, Maine — There’s a new police chief in town. As of Jan. 1, Lt. Randy Gagne will be promoted to the Camden Police Department’s chief. Meanwhile, the current chief will be in his RV roaming the country in retirement.
Camden Town Manager Roberta Smith said Gagne’s experience made him a particularly good choice.
“He has been the lieutenant for 8½ years. He has almost 22 years in this department,” Smith said. “He is extremely dedicated to the department. He is an excellent and obvious choice, and he is highly recommended by the current chief.”
Gagne, 42, of Searsmont will be paid a salary of $61,027. He said he doesn’t expect any major changes in the department because of his promotion.
“What we have in Camden seems to have worked,” he said Tuesday. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”
Gagne’s goals for the near future include getting the department back to a full staff of 11. His promotion leaves one spot open and a patrol officer is deployed in Afghanistan.Aside from that, Gagne wants to make sure he isn’t handcuffed to his desk with paperwork. The Rockport native, who lobsters part time in the summer, enjoys getting out and talking with people in his community.
Current Police Chief Phil Roberts has already sold his house in Lincolnville, packed up and bought a recreational vehicle.
Roberts, 61, 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 chief’s job 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 to increase training for officers. He said he accomplished each of them. But none of them made for his proudest achievement; that title goes to his time in the D.A.R.E. program, which he said helped him build strong relationships in the community. “I feel it’s the best thing I ever did,” he said.
He said he would like to retain a police officer in the schools, but budgets are tight. He tried to get grants.
“With budgets these days I’m hanging on to what I have, never mind asking for more,” he said.
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 in 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 he 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.”
As for the new chief, Gagne is ready to go.
“I’m looking forward to getting boots on the ground and get going here,” he said. “When you have 22 years in [the department] and you still look forward to going to work every day you couldn’t ask for anything better.”