2016-12-17 / Front Page

Chief Paul retires

Staff Writer

SACO —  Sitting at his desk at the Saco Police Department, Police Chief Bradley Paul reflected on his years of service to the city.

“I’ve had a good run,” said Paul. “I think you get as much as you give in life.”

After 40 years of service, Paul will be retiring at the end of the year. Current Dep. Chief Raynald Demers will take his place in January.

Paul, 61, began working for the Saco Police Department in 1976 as a dispatcher and shortly after became a patrol officer. In 1981, he became a sergeant, a position he held until 2002, when he became chief.

Paul said he is fortunate to live and work in Saco. He said every time he reached out to other city officials or to the community for help, he has never been let down.

While budget times can be tough, he said, in the end, after hearing input from city staff and the community, the City Council usually makes the right decision.

He noted that he was laid off during the now infamous 1979 tax freeze, but a few months later, the city did the right thing and he was reinstated as a patrol officer.

Paul was hired with a high school diploma and while working went to school to get an associate's degree. After becoming police chief, he went on to pursue a bachelor's degree, juggling a demanding job and school, which Paul seems to have taken in stride.

“It’s what you do. I was always good with all of it,” said Paul.

In addition to police work, Paul umpired and refereed local sporting events, and he’s also been involved in organizations including the Saco Bay Rotary and the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. He credits his wife, Laura, and their two daughters for putting up with his busy schedule.

“They’ve been really, truly saints,” he said.

Paul said he also feels lucky that he’s had a job he’s passionate about and enjoys. “As you get older, you realize you can’t save the world, but you can save your corner of the world,” he said.

He said he likes that the job is different every day.

“Police officers are to some extent, action junkies, they want excitement,” said Paul.

He said he likes knowing the staff of his department are the ones people can turn to in an emergency. And because police are often the first point of contact in emergency situations, one of the most important qualities of a police officer is compassion.

Maintaining a good relationship with the community is also important for police, and it’s important to remember the police work for everyone in the community. "Sometimes you work with people who don’t have access to a shower. Underneath that pile of rags or clothes that need a laundromat is a person,” he said. 

The job has its challenges, and sometimes officers come face-to-face with tragedy; part of the job is  learning how to cope with that and not obsess about it.

“You support each other. You can’t unsee what you’ve seen or unlive what you’ve lived,” he said.

Since he announced his retirement about seven months ago, Paul said he’s been focused on getting the job done and tying up any loose ends before he leaves. While he doesn’t have a definite plan for life after retirement, he intends to keep busy.

“I’m not a sit around the house kind of guy,” Paul said.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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