Come welcome the new police chief

WHO: New Bridgton Police Chief Richard Stillman

WHAT: Official Swearing-in Ceremony

WHEN: Monday, July 27, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Municipal Complex, downstairs multipurpose room

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton may have just hit the jackpot in attracting the caliber of police chief that is Richard Stillman.

Just consider what people were saying in Walpole, Mass., when they learned Stillman was leaving the chief’s job in that much, much larger city of 25,000 people near Boston:

“I already miss him,” Deputy Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael said last week, after being promoted as Stillman’s replacement. “Chief Stillman has been a huge mentor to me, he’s one of the most genuine guys I think I’ve ever met in my life, a great leader, somebody that really cares about the town of Walpole. He’s going to be greatly missed.”

Lucky for Bridgton that it creates lasting memories for summertime visitors. Stillman, a 38-year veteran of the Walpole Police Department, who rose through the ranks and served 13 years as its chief, said he was drawn to the top job in Bridgton by virtue of his summers spent vacationing here. An official swearing-in ceremony will be held on Monday, July 27, at 6 p.m., in the downstairs multipurpose room of the Bridgton Municipal Complex, with entrance on Iredale Street.

Carmichael said it was a personal dream of Stillman’s to move up north, and predicted he “would do great things” for Bridgton, just as he has in Walpole, where he led a force of 39 police officers, answering 23,000 incidents in 2014, while earning a 98% positive rating in terms of being responsive to individual needs.

Stillman was cited for his emphasis on community policing and building mutual trust between the community and department. He also is credited with never giving up on the goal of building a new police station in Walpole, which will be going up next year.

Opiate addiction is a huge problem in Walpole, and Stillman took up the challenge by creating a community-based Strategic Drug Plan, consisting of a targeted patrol strategy, a prescription monitoring program and detailed treatment and recovery plan.

“Drugs are not a police problem — they are a community problem, and until the community wakes up it will continue to spiral out of control,” Stillman is quoted as saying upon his departure from Walpole. He also noted how important it is for police officers to be out in the community, and to make themselves known to the public.

The Walpole Police Department maintained its own website, complete with weekly police logs and regular news releases about activities within the department. On the website, Stillman stressed that “successful policing cannot be done without the support of the community,”

A July 17 posting on the Walpole Police Department’s Facebook page had this to say about Stillman’s legacy:

“Chief Stillman has served the community with distinction and honor for 38 years as a member of the Walpole Police Department. His leadership has been integral in developing the Walpole Police Department into the professional organization that it is today.

“During his time in law enforcement, Chief Stillman has been a key member of many organizations, including the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council. He has been a driving force behind several crucial public safety initiatives, both within the Town of Walpole and statewide. He has been a friend and mentor to many of the men and women who have worn the Walpole Police patch. There is no way to fully acknowledge the contributions he has made to Walpole and law enforcement during his tenure within this post.

“All of us here at the Walpole Police Department would like to express our heartfelt congratulations and well wishes to Chief Stillman as he enters into the next chapter of his life.”

The posting generated 225 likes and 24 comments, one of which was given by Rich Petroni, who said, “Good luck chief. You always did Walpole proud.”

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