Saturday, May 23, 2015

The changing of the guard - By Michelle Libby

Last Thursday after all of the parties had been had and the training was done, Windham Police Department and Chief Rick Lewsen turned over command to incoming Chief Kevin Schofield at a formal change of command ceremony. 

Having never attended a change of command ceremony I was moved and impressed by the attention to detail and the emotion of the day. After 38 and a half years of law enforcement service, Lewsen was given a proper send off. 

“Rick Lewsen has seen his fair share of challenges and change,” said Town Manager Tony Plante. He pointed out the men and women in front of him. This, he said, was Lewsen’s legacy. 

When Lewsen spoke, he pulled out a note written by Plante in 1996. Lewsen said the look on Plante’s face was worth keeping that letter. He also quoted a letter from Plate dated April 27, 2015. “Thank you for your service, guidance, council and trust.” 

Lewsen wanted to leave three core values with his troops: Professionalism, courtesy and trust. “When you pin your badge on to come to work, remember the three core values – they served me well,” he said.
Sgt. Jason Andrews, who arranged the ceremony, spoke about the company flags that military men carried into battle. He who held the flag, held the power. So when the Windham Police Department flag was handed to Lewsen, who passed it to Schofield, I was very moved by the symbolism of it. 

“You should have a great amount of pride. The torch has been passed on. Please enjoy your well-deserved retirement,” Schofield told Lewsen. 

After Lewsen shook hands with everyone including Grinko the K-9, he was driven home in a line of police cars with blue lights flashing, and under the ladders and flag suspended over the road put there by the Windham Fire Department. During the procession, people stopped to wave, the Hall’s stood on the side of the road across from Hall Implement to say thank you. 

I was lucky enough to ride in one of the cars behind the chief with Windham Public Library director Jen Alvino who said, “I appreciate the respect and the ceremony.” 

When the chief arrived at home where his wife Karen was waiting for him, he gave one last sign off on the radio. It was broadcasted back to the police station. “Windham one to county. Windham one is 10-7.” And with that, he was officially off duty. 

Congratulations Chief Lewsen. Thank you for your service and sacrifices for our community.

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